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The Order of Good Cheer
Samuel de Champlain was a French explorer who founded Quebec City in 1608. But before that, he started a settlement in Port-Royal, in what is now Nova Scotia.
The early years were tough, so, to help the settlers survive the severe winters, Champlain started the Order of Good Cheer.
Cold Canadian Winters
Champlain’s original settlement in the Maritimes had been at Saint Croix Island in 1604. Many of the French settlers died in the winter, mostly from a disease now known as scurvy. Today we know that scurvy is caused by a lack of vitamin C, but people did not know that in Champlain’s day.
To save the settlement, Champlain moved it to nearby Port-Royal, which was better protected than the site on Saint Croix Island. But settlers continued to die. What could Champlain do?
In Champlain’s time, scurvy was known as “land sickness.” People thought it was caused by not having enough to do. So Champlain decided to keep the settlers busy by having them cook feasts and put on shows for each other.
Soon the settlers were out hunting and fishing and competing to create wonderful meals for each other. They learned from the Indigenous peoples in the area which fruits and vegetables they could eat and how to cook them.
The first meeting of the Order of Good Cheer took place on November 14, 1606. It featured a play called “Le Théâtre de Neptune en la Nouvelle-France,” or “The Neptune Theatre in New France.” Neptune is the name of the god of the sea in Roman myths.
A Play on the River!
The play told the tale of sailors travelling to Canada, where they met up with Neptune. The show was staged on boats in the nearby river, likely because the settlement was too small to include a theatre. This was the first theatre performance in North America.
Today, the Order of Good Cheer’s first play is remembered in the name of Halifax’s most famous theatre company, Neptune Theatre.
Champlain’s plan to save the settlement worked. The settlers enjoyed the Order of Good Cheer and worked hard trying to create better and better meals and shows. Not only did the work keep them busy, but they ate better, too, so they were healthier than they had been in previous winters.
Thanks to Champlain’s good idea, few settlers died after the Order of Good Cheer was started. The settlement survived and Champlain became known as one of Canada’s most famous explorers.
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1. Match the settlement to the correct area.
Champlain’s original settlement in the Maritimes
Champlain moved the settlement here to save it
Saint Croix Island
2. True or false? Champlain started a settlement in Port-Royal, in what is now New Brunswick.CorrectIncorrect
3. What was the purpose of the Order of Good Cheer?CorrectIncorrect
4. What is scurvy? What causes it?CorrectIncorrect
5. In Champlain’s time, scurvy was known as “land sickness” because people thought it was caused by not having enough to do. Do you ever feel as though you have “land sickness”? Explain.
Great answer!Great answer!
Type your response above.
6. How is the Order of Good Cheer’s first play remembered today?CorrectIncorrect
7. True or false? The Order of Good Cheer was successful.CorrectIncorrect