de la Vérendrye
The Last of the Great French Pathfinders
Pierre de la
Vérendrye was born and raised in near Trois Rivieres on a
At the age of 12 he joined the French army and spent the next four
years as a soldier. Tired of army life, he returned to New France
was put in charge of a fur trading post on Lake Nipigon, north of
Lake Superior in 1727. While he was there, he heard the First
Nations peoples talk about the land in the west and a "western
sea." Tales of a western sea (or the Pacific Ocean) caused
him great excitement because he thought it might be a short-cut
to China. He decided to explore the land and go in search of
the "western sea."
In 1731 he
set off with three of his sons. His plan was to build trading posts
along the way so that the First Nation traders would bring their
furs to him instead of taking them to Hudson's Bay Company.
Over the next twelve years, he and three of his sons explored
and mapped a maze of waterways. They established a trade route known
as the Grand Portage.
Map of major
fur trade routes
was the "western sea" so important?
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