Official closing of the Commemoration of 400 Years of French Presence in Ontario - Ontario Heritage Trust


Official closing of the Commemoration of 400 Years of French Presence in Ontario

PENETANGUISHENE – Today, the Office of Francophone Affairs, the Ontario Heritage Trust and the Town of Penetanguishene hosted a special event at Rotary Champlain Wendat Park to mark the official closing of the commemoration of 400 years of French presence in Ontario.

On August 1, 1615, French explorer Samuel de Champlain arrived on the shores of Georgian Bay in the region of what is now Penetanguishene. During his travels, he established a strong alliance with the area’s Indigenous peoples and later published important descriptions of the people, societies and landscapes of what would become Ontario.

Rotary Champlain Wendat Park commemorates Champlain’s visit to the region. The park’s Legacy Walkway features six statues portraying individuals and peoples significant to the history of Ontario and Canada. Three provincial plaques located at the park share the story of Champlain’s sojourn in Ontario in 1615, told in English, French, Anishinabe, Montagnais-Innu, Mohawk and Wendat. A companion provincial plaque was unveiled at Champlain’s point of departure from France, in Honfleur, last October.

Supporting the Franco-Ontarian community is part of the government's economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes investing in talent and skills, including helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history and investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.


“The 400th Commemoration was a unique opportunity to recognize the significant contributions of our founding peoples to making Ontario the diverse and dynamic province of today. Ontario is pleased to offer these plaques to the Town and residents of Penetanguishene in the revitalized Rotary Champlain Wendat Park. This is an important legacy of the 400th and a tribute to the key role played by First Nations, Métis and Francophones in our province’s development.” – Madeleine Meilleur, Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs

“Champlain’s great journey of 1615 not only marks 400 years of French presence in Ontario, it also represents the interaction of First Nations and European civilizations and an important chapter in North American history. We are pleased to commemorate Champlain’s legacy today in a spirit of respect and inclusivity of all the diverse perspectives that are part of this story.” – Professor Thomas H.B. Symons, Chair, Ontario Heritage Trust

“In 1615, the French explorer Samuel de Champlain stood on the soil that we stand upon today – the land where the Wendat First Nation had lived for hundreds of years. This event set the stage for the next 400 years of developing relationships between cultures. It brings us to where we are today, commemorating 400 years of French presence in Ontario. The Town of Penetanguishene is extremely honoured and proud to be part of and to assist in the hosting of this significant event that speaks to Canadian identity.” – Gerry Marshall, Mayor, Town of Penetanguishene

Quick facts

  • The year 2015 marked the 400th anniversary of French explorer Samuel de Champlain’s first passage through Ontario.
  • More than 610,000 francophones live in Ontario. It is the largest French-speaking community in Canada outside of Quebec.
  • The Ontario Heritage Trust’s Provincial Plaque Program commemorates provincially significant people, places and events in Ontario’s history. Since 1956, over 1,250 provincial plaques have been unveiled.

Additional resources


Charles Jean Sucsan, Office of Francophone Affairs, 416-476-5223,
Kimberly Murphy, Ontario Heritage Trust, 416-325-5032,
Stacey Cooper, Town of Penetanguishene, 705-549-7453,

The Ontario Heritage Trust is an agency of the Government of Ontario dedicated to identifying, preserving, protecting and promoting Ontario’s heritage.

The Trust gratefully acknowledges the Ontario Office of Francophone Affairs for its assistance and the Department of Canadian Heritage for its financial contribution to the provincial plaques through the Canada-Ontario Agreement on French-Language Services.
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