The lake route was used by war parties of contesting native groups. Samuel de CHAMPLAIN discovered it (and named it for himself) in 1609 while accompanying a Montagnais war party against the Iroquois. The Abenakis called the lake Pitawbagok, which means "middle lake" or "double lake." Little settlement took place in the area in the time of New France, but French FORTIFICATIONS were established at Fort St-Frédéric (later Crown Point) in 1725-26 and Fort Carillon (later Fort Ticonderoga) in 1755. The British suffered some 2000 casualties in an ill-conceived assault on Carillon (1758), but Louis-Joseph de MONTCALM evacuated the forts and the British pressed northward into Canada (see SEVEN YEARS' WAR). The same invasion route was followed by the Americans during the AMERICAN REVOLUTION and in a British counterattack southward. During the WAR OF 1812 a British strike against the US was thwarted when the British fleet was destroyed at PLATTSBURG, NY.
In more peaceful times, the lake was used as a transportation route. When frozen it made for fast travel by sleigh in winter. Steamboats were plying the lake by 1810. Canada's first railway, the CHAMPLAIN AND ST LAWRENCE RAILROAD, was built to connect Montréal with the lake (1836), which in turn was linked to the Hudson River, providing a connection to New York. Today the lake is popular for fishing and boating.
Author JAMES MARSH
Links to Other Sites
Chambly Canal National Historic Site of Canada
Go through the lock of history and travel Quebec's Historic Canals to find out how our country was built! From Parks Canada.
The Plattsburgh Campaign of 1814
A brief overview of "The Plattsburgh Campaign of 1814." From the War of 1812 Magazine.