For thirty-two years the Father of New France was so closely identified with the exploration and settlement of Canada that his life is inextricably intertwined with this period in the continent's development. Jacobs concentrates instead on Champlain's personal qualities -- fairness, stamina and, increasingly piety, on the disheartening indifference of his patrons back in France, and on the tragedy of his marriage to a young heiress who rejected life in the New World and left Champlain to live alone in Europe. Champlain's explorations and the hardships of wintering at the Habitation in the city of Quebec (which he founded) are stirringly recounted, yet nowadays one does expect some acknowledgment of the fact that the fur-trading, missions and internecine wars instituted by this man whom ""the Indians loved. . . as a father"" might mar Jacobs' final assessment that ""few of history's adventurers have ever lived so selflessly.