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Explorer's spirit comes alive in Belmont

Last summer's Champlain Quadricentennial events tied to communities along the Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence River shores proved to be pay dirt for author and performer Don Thompson a resident of the Lake Bomoseen area.

Thompson, better known to Vermonters as the living persona of French explorer Samuel de Champlain, was a familiar face during the explorer's 400th anniversary voyage to the region. His various appearances during 2009 helped area residents better understand the heart, should and wit of France's greatest New World explorer.

Thompson was in our area this week, making a return performance to the Mt. Holly Town Library in Belmont Nov. 10 but only after an early Nor'easter storm in the Okemo Valley snowbelt last month forced the event's rescheduling.

Presenting his lively and informative program, titled "Meet Samuel de Champlain", author-actor Thompson gave the audience a first-person account of 17th century life in the colony of New France.

According to librarian Lynne Herbst, Thompson"becomes Champlain donning 17th century dress to tell the stories of his time in North America. He uses artifacts, anecdotes and his vast research to help us understand this important historical figure."

According to Mr.. Champlain-err, Mr. Thompson-"few people realize just how far and wide Champlain explored in the northeast. He

explored the coast of New England by ship, traveled out to western New York, and then went as far as Lake Huron. And unlike the English and Spanish, Champlain treated the Native Americans a lot more fairly. In fact, many came to respect Champlain and his legend was kept alive orally by Natives."

In an article appearing in the Rutland Tribune in 2009, Thompson discussed his interest in local history and discussed how he prepared to portray the famous explorer in public. A lot of researching, reading, and preparation goes into his amazing portrayal of a famous man long gone.

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