Canadian Museum of History Insider's Look

Samuel de Champlain's Astrolabe

Samuel de Champlain's Astrolabe

Champlain's Astrolabe

The astrolabe such as Champlain's served as early navigational device for measuring latitude. It was beleive to have been lost by Samuel de Champlain, founder of New France, in the 17th century. The astrolabe is an authentic object, made in France in 1603, then making its journey with Champlain up the Ottawa River ten years later. Astrolabes were commonly used by cartographers, mariners and explorers, and Champlain would undoubtedly have carried one.

After it was found, the astrolabe changed hands many times before it was purchased by the Canadian Government in 1989. It is now a valuable part of the collections of the Canadian Museum of History, and is an important witness to the earliest period of European exploration in Canada.