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Canada France 1604-2004
Canada France 1604-2004
Canada a space for imagination

News Feature: Maison Champlain in Brouage

Voice off: Radio Canada reporter.
Nathalie Fiquet: Curator of the Brouage site.
In italics: visual references.


Voice off: [Shot of the main sights in the town of Brouage]
Once a port of trade and war, present-day Brouage is a peaceful little village. This seventeenth century fortified community, famous for its ramparts and lookout towers, was for many years the salt capital of Europe in the days when salt was white gold.

Nathalie Fiquet: [Shot of Nathalie Fiquet, Curator of the Brouage site, in front of the archaeological site]
It is said that at that time, this place was like Babel, where every language was spoken. Picture a small town to which people—traders and merchants—flocked from the time it was founded in 1555, and which very quickly grew to a large city of 4,000—rather hard to believe today.

Voice off: [Shots of the military and ancient flavour of the town of Brouage]
A star of stone in the heart of the Charente-Maritime marshes, this sleepy little community displays its history through its military buildings, its fortifications and a man, Samuel de Champlain, Father of New France and a native of Brouage. [Champlain’s presence in the urban landscape of Brouage] Reminders of the country’s most famous son are everywhere.

NF: We know that he did actually live here and that he received part of his training here, during which time he must also have developed his spirit of adventure and discovery.

Voice off: [Shot of archaeologists at work]
Over the last few weeks, a team of archaeologists from France and Canada have been sifting through the earth at Brouage, going back in time and gaining a better understanding of the great explorer. On the site of the soon-to-be-built Maison Champlain, a museum chronicling the navigator’s adventures, they are attempting to piece together fragments of history.

Archaeologist: What we find interesting is that there are dwellings, inside of which are various floors that were remade, and between these remade floors are garbage and waste areas that provide direct evidence of what the inhabitants were using at that time.

Student 1: [Student displays the pipe from the dig]
I found this last week. It’s three pieces of the same artifact: they were separated from each other, but almost the entire pipe was found and as you can see, it’s quite ornamented.

Voice off: [Archaeologists and students are busy scraping at the archaeological layers and gathering information]
Among these researchers sifting through the earth at Brouage are five Canadian students, four of whom are from the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. For the past month, these young people from the anthropology department have been getting an introduction to modern archaeological techniques and are marvelling at what they are discovering about seventeenth century life.

Student 1: [Shot of other artifacts]
We’ve found a lot of treasures—treasures left by the occupants. For example, there’s a bone that still bears the knife marks made by the man. And this cow vertebra, which speaks volumes about their meals.

Voice off: [Students, true archaeological apprentices]
Marilyne and her classmates are here under the exchange program tied in with the 2004 celebrations that will commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Samuel de Champlain and his companions on St. Croix Island.

Student 2: This is really special, because St. Croix Island is very close, an hour and a half from my home in Fredericton. That was the first proof, the first settlement in New France.

Student 3: It has given me a lot of experience: the chance to see another culture, France’s culture.

Voice off: [Ties between Canada and France: shot of a road sign in Brouage that reads “ Square du Nouveau-Brunswick.”]
These are the first archaeological digs ever in Brouage. The French government hopes to repeat the experience over the next few years and will very likely involve other Canadian students, because, at least in part, it is also their history.
Bertin Leblanc, Radio Canada, Brouage.