PLATTSBURGH - The official year-long celebration of the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial has come to an end.
The 400th anniversary of French explorer Samuel de Champlain's exploration of the region was honored with a rededication of the monument which bears his name at DeLord's Point on Cumberland Avenue Sept. 25.
City Mayor Donald M. Kasprzak was joined by representatives from the commission, local historians and other officials as the 34-foot high monument was recognized.
According to historical information presented by Kasprzak; John W. Krueger, curator of the Kent-DeLord House Museum; and Robert Booth, descendant of John H. Booth, one of the members of the commission which was formed to create a monument honoring Champlain, DeLord's Point was not the initially-intended location for the memorial.
Several locations for a monument were discussed, including installing it on an island in the middle of Lake Champlain so it could be shared evenly between the states of New York and Vermont. However, it was ultimately decided to construct the original monument dedicated to Champlain in the town of Crown Point.
It wasn't until the people north of Crown Point expressed their displeasure with not having a monument in their region that a monument was proposed for the northern half of the lake, said Kasprzak. The commission which oversaw the Crown Point monument's construction committed funding left over from the Crown Point memorial project to build a monument in Plattsburgh.
"Which is where we stand today," said Kasprzak.
The inaugural dedication of the monument took place July 6, 1909 - 300 years since Champlain's arrival in America - though the monument's construction was not yet complete, said Booth. The dedication was attended by President William H. Taft and political dignitaries from France, England and Canada, and was said to have been a bigger to-do than the dedication held July 6, 1912, when the monument was finally completed.
"By that time, the granite work was finished, the Indian and the canoe were finished and Samuel de Champlain stood up there as he does now, in clean bronze," said Booth. "But, so as not to spoil the effect of the first commemoration, it was not ballyhooed as much."
However, words spoken at the 1912 celebration credited Champlain for being a man whose memory has remained "300 years without tarnish," said Celine R. Paquette, vice-chairperson of the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Commission. Those words still ring true today, she said.
"Well, it has been 400 years, and we are still discovering great traits and saying great things about this man," she said. "We know his life was a great record with few equals."
"Champlain's visit in 1909 was more than just the explorer's discovery of the lake for which he named after himself," Paquette continued. "It was the beginning of recorded history in New York State."
Champlain's accomplishments, which included crossing the Atlantic Ocean 27 times facing "unending work, the elements and the unknown," were no small feat, said Jennifer LaFontaine, chairperson of the City of Plattsburgh Quadricentennial Committee.
"The resolve of the people, the commitment, was, in every sense of the word, remarkable," she said.
The most recent rededication of the monument was only fitting to recognize that, said Paquette, and was an important part of the year's celebrations.
"This event today culminates a wonderful year of a variety of events, music and programs on both sides of Lake Champlain commemorating Samuel de Champlain," she said. "Fifty years or a hundred years from now, when Champlain is again commemorated, people will look back on today and reflect on this event and the words that were spoken here today."