Champlain's Arrival on Henderson Shore in 1615
The Story of the Painting by Frank W. Springsteen
The mural is designed to be an informative wall decoration. It is part of the architecture of the location in which it is placed. Such a picture need not tell a story, but in order to be genuinely artistic, a mural, like anything else, must be useful. Mindful of this fact, the mural has been painted to serve the dual purpose of design and description. The story told in the painting is that of the Huron punitive expedition against the Iroquois which passed through our neighborhood here on the eastern end of Skon-A-Da-Rio (Iroquois word meaning "beautiful lake"), or Lake Ontario. This occurred in October of 1615. The voyage brought Samuel de Champlain, with his Huron followers, into the sheltering bay sometimes referred to under the Indian name, Out-en-nes-son-eta, (meaning "where the league began") and now known as Henderson Bay. The style of the painting used is, for the most part, consistently free, and seemingly coarse to symbolize the primeval land and its native savages. Sunrise is chosen because it was the "early morning" of exploration in this country. Full daylight conditions are seen here during the sunrise not only to avoid darkening the room with a deep colored picture, but also to give the symbolical credit to proceding explorers (Lief Ericson, Carter, Cabot, etc.) and to surprising rich culture that the indians possessed prior to the arrival of the white man. The setting is at Henderson Harbor looking somewhat east by northeast from the land in the general neighborhood of what we call the Indian Wharf. This sopt is used because it was one end of the portage from Henderson Bay to the mouth of Sancy Creek. You will note that the Indian wit the canoe on his back at the right side of the picture has already started the overland journey. As you can see, most of the canoes are light birch bark craft since they often have to be carried across such portages. Third from the left there is one small canoe, to show that this is a common type of vessel for long water voyages. Champlain stands in the center foreground in his white-plumed helmut. He is represented with a cross and charts in one hand and a sword in the other, to show that he was not only a courageous explorer, but a protector of the missionary priests. Beside Champlain stands the explorer, Brale. In back of them, Champlain's servant is approaching. He carries his hat in his hand, because of the warm Indian summer. The white men in their cumbersome armor, stand out in regemental European attitude entirely alien to their surroundings. The Indian guide in the foreground is pointing in the direction...Iroquois country.
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