Follow The Rivers


This is a self- consciously Christian blog written for a Christian audience. Our hope at ChristianRoots Canada, is for you to be inspired to dig deeper and verify any information you read here. We hope you will become like the Bereans (See Acts 17:11), by being diligent to check any information here against accurate historical research.

Have you ever thought about the important part that the oceans and rivers played in the exploration and discovery of Canadian lands? From the fishermen who discovered the fishing banks off Newfoundland, to the discovery of Hudson Bay and James Bay, to the exploration of the St. Lawrence, these waterways played key roles in establishing the Dominion of Canada.

Recently, I wanted to understand how Samuel de Champlain was able to claim so much land for New France. I pulled up Google maps and followed the rivers and lakes. It is a time consuming venture on which to embark, even with modern technology.  But Champlain patiently traversed the land and mapped out rivers and lakes with the help of the Native Indian tribes.

Another interesting piece of information I discovered was the ‘Doctrine of Discovery’ which European monarchs used to claim land ‘discovered’ by their representatives – land that was inhabited by the Natives. This doctrine was actually first implemented by the kingdoms of Portugal and Spain who were the leaders in navigation, shipbuilding and exploration.

When lands were ‘discovered’ on behalf of the king, small shields were nailed into trees along the rivers and lakes as claims of ownership. The first monarch to claim the estuary of a river also claimed all the tributaries and lakes flowing into the river. You can view an exhibit of this shield in Lewiston, just across from Niagara Falls on the American side.

Because the Natives could portage from one river to the next, Champlain was able to claim all the rivers flowing into the St. Lawrence, the Great Lakes, the Ohio River basin and the Mississippi River basin for France. In effect, New France stretched virtually from the mouth of the St. Lawrence to New Orleans. Now you know why there was French influence in New Orleans.

See a plaque below in honour of a French explorer celebrated in Lewiston.


By Pierre5018 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Make It Personal:

  • Can you map a route from the mouth of the St. Lawrence to New Orleans?
  • What do you know about Portugal’s role in ‘discovering’ the New World?
  • Did you hear about the ‘Doctrine of Discovery’ before?

Let us know what you would like to learn more about.

Most footprints made on the sands of time were made with WORK shoes.