SAVIGNON, Huron youth who accompanied Champlain to France in 1610.
Returning from the Iroquois country in June 1610, Champlain met a party of Hurons under Outchetaguin and Algonkins under Iroquet at the mouth of the River of the Iroquois (Richelieu). At their request he agreed to take Savignon, a young Huron, to France in return for a young French lad [possibly Étienne Brûlé] whom he had persuaded Iroquet and his people to take to winter in their country to learn the language, observe the geography and the minerals, and to acquaint himself with the various tribes. Savignon, in return, was to report to his people on his observations in France. In this way Champlain hoped to build up a body of interpreters who would act as agents for the French in Indian territory.
Savignon returned to the St. Lawrence with Champlain in 1611 and was sent ahead from the Rapids (Lachine) to hasten the arrival of the Hurons and Algonkins who were expected; but because of a faulty canoe he was forced to return after passing the Lac des Deux-Montagnes. On the return trip he narrowly escaped death off “l’isle aux herons,” where his canoe became engulfed in the whirling waters. Two companions, Louis, a young Frenchman in the service of Du Gua de Monts, and Outetoucos, a Montagnais chief, were lost. It is said that this incident gave the St. Louis Rapids its name.
Shortly after, the Hurons arrived with Chief Outchetaguin and Iroquet, and Tregouaroti, Savignon’s brother. They were welcomed with a salvo of arquebus and musket shots, and small cannon, which frightened many who had never seen a European. Savignon gave a good account of his treatment in France, and Champlain was equally pleased with the report of the French lad [Brûlé?] who had come down with Iroquet. Savignon then returned to his own country parting from Champlain with regret. Champlain, however, confessed his relief at being free of the responsibility for him.