In 1603, Champlain sailed to what is now Canada and anchored at Tadoussac, where the Saguenay joins the St. Lawrence. He then sailed up the Saguenay as far as the rapids just above present-day Montreal. Returning to Tadoussac, he then explored both sides of the St. Lawrence River down to about present-day Quebec. During this voyage he became one of the first Europeans to see Niagara Falls. Returning to Canada in 1604, Champlain explored the New England coast. In 1605 he helped found a settlement at Port Royal (now Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia). Later in 1605 Champlain again explored the New England coast, this time making it to the tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The following year he continued on around Cape Cod, but went no further south.

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