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Canada before setting out on his great missionary journey to the West; the greater part of which time he employed in various excursions into the country, frequently visiting Three Rivers, St. Anne's, Point Levi, and the Island of St. Lawrence, to preach to the Indians. In the winter, a large dog drew his baggage, and he slept with no other covering than a cloak, the intensity of the cold oblig. ing him to rise five or six times in the night to renew his fire, to prevent his freezing to death. Add to which that his “commons were often “very short” and we must admit that his sufferings in these four years formed an excellent schooling for his future labors. On one occasion he penetrated through the country of the Honnehiouts and Honontages [ Onondagas ) to within “ a large day's journey” of New Holland, called at present “New York." Subseqeuntly he accompanied another missionary to Fort Frontenac on Lake Ontario, where he caused a house and chapel to be built, and erected a large cross. Whilst here he spe
much time in reading voyages, and learned much from the savages in relation to the country to the South; of which he concludes, “ that it would not be a matter of great difficulty to make considerable establishments to the Southeast of the great lakes, and that by the convenience of a great river called the Hois, which passes through the country of the Iroquois passage might be made into the sea at Cape Florida.”
Lake Ontario ("the pretty lake,”) or Frontenac, called also in the Iroquois language Skanandario ("a very pretty lake,") he describes as of an oval figure, extending from East to West. • Its water is fresh and sweet, and very agreeable to be drunk, the lands which border upon it being likewise very fertile. It is easily navigable, and that with great vessels; only in winter it is more difficult, because of the outrageous winds that abound there."
Having in two and a half years established the missionary establishment at Fort Frontenac to his satisfaction, Hennepin left it in charge of his brother missionary, father Biusset, and returned to Quebec to prepare for his great undertaking, a voyage of discovery to the West. At Quebec he was joined by some Europeans who had arrived to accompany him, Flemish, Italians, and Normans. With the blessing of his Bishop and the approbation of Count Frontenac, he set out in a birch canoe, leaving his comrades to follow and join him in the brigantine when they were ready. Of this, a portable chapel formed part of the lading. After some time the brigantine arrived at Fort Frontenac, and Hennepin having embarked, they started up the lake on the eighteenth November, 1698, Early in December they arrived in Niagara river, and drew the brig on shore to prevent its destruction by the ice, which came down with great violence from the Falls. Of this our author gives the following description : “Between the Lakes Ontario and Erie there is a vast and prodigious cadence of water, which falls down after a
surprising and astonishing manner, insomuch that the Universe does not afford its parallel. 'Tis true Italy and Suedeland boast of some such things, but we may well say they are but sorry patterns when compared to this of which we now speak. At the foot of this hor. rible precipice we meet with the river Niagara, which is not above a quarter of a league broad, but is wonderfully deep in some places. It is so rapid above this descent, that it violently hurries down the wild beast, while endeavouring to pass it to feed on the other side, they not being able to withstand the force of its current, which inevitably casts them headlong above siz hundred feet high. This wonderful downfall is composed of two great cross streams of water, and two falls with an isle sloping along the middle of it. The waters which fall from this outrageous precipice do foam and boil after the most hideous manner imaginable, making an outrageous noise, more terrible than that of thunder, for when the wind blows out of the South, their dismal roaring may be heard more than fifteen leagues off.”
At the mouth of Niagara river they erected a store-house to preserve their goods, and, lest their designs should be misunderstood, sent an embassy to the Iroquois in the neighbourhood. Of this party Hennepin was one, and he gives a detailed account of these voyages. He considers the Indian politeness of assenting to every thing proposed, a great obstacle to their conversion, it being impossible to get at their real sentiments. He charges them with cannibalism, and states, that with a view to impress upon their children the hatred of their enemies they give them blood to drink in little porringers of bark.
In January M. de la Salle joined them from Fort Frontenac, but the vessel containing the rigging for the vessel they purposed building above the Falls of Niagara, was lost on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, two leagues from the Niagara river, through the ignorance of the pilots. On the twenty-second they proceeded by land to a point two leagues above the Falls, where they constructed a dock for the construction of their vessel. M. la Salle now left them to return to Fort Frontenac by land through the wilderness. Shortly after, the savages formed a plot to burn the rising vessel, but our voyagers received notice of their design from an Indian
To add to their difficulties, one of the crew made several attempts to run off, and endeavoured to seduce the carpenters to accompany him to New York; the prevention of which our author as. cribes to the good advice which he gave the men on holydays, remind. ing them that the glory of God was concerned in their enterprise. The ship, the first which ever floated upon Lake Erie, was at length completed, and named the Griffin, the supporters of Count Frontenac's arms being griffins. Three guns were fired upon this joysul occasion, a Te Deum was sung, and the Iroquois who were present
- FEBRUARY, 1839.
VOL. V. NO. XIV
received some brandy. It was a vessel of sixty tons, and astonishi. ed the natives with its size and speedy completion. They called the party Otkon, which signifies, says llennepin, most penetrating wits.
Our author was now obliged to return to Fort Frontenac to procure the assistance of two monks of his order for the ecclesiastical services of the expedition. He set out, accompanied by a Spaniard who conceived himself ill used by M. de Tonti, left in command by La Salle; and having carried their canoe around the Falls of Niagara, they proceeded to the south of Niagara river, where they found a brigantine come from Fort Frontenac to exchange brandy for beaver skins with the savages; “but ( says our good Father) I must confess that his commerce of strong waters was never acceptable to me, for is the savages drink but a little too much of that liquor, they are worse and more dangerous than madmen." In this brig they returned to Fort Frontenac, where he found four Franciscans, of whom two, Gabriel de la Ribourde, and Zenobe Mambre, set out with him the following June. On arriving at the dock where the ship had been built, they found that it had sailed, but proceeding on they discovered it within a league of the pleasant Lake Eric. It was well rigged and fitted out, carrying five small cannon, three of which were of brass, and there harquebuses. A flying griffin, “with an eagle abore it," adorned the beak. A difference with La Salle, now again in command, had nearly induced Hennepin to give up his journey, but La Salle having come to him with refreshments, and desired a reconciliation, he was easily pacified, owing to “ the great desire he had to discover a new country.”
After experiencing some difficulty in stemming the current of the Niagara, on the seventh of August, 1674, they entered Lake Erié, ( which, from the accent on the last letter, appears to have been pronounced in three syllables, and is a softened word from Erigé or Eriké, a cat,) a lake, “perhaps, from East to West, a hundred and fifty leagues in length, but no European has ever been over it at all; only I, and those who accompanied me in this discovery, have viewed the greater part of it." Carefully sounding all night, they went on rejoicing. On the tenth, they entered Detroit river and cast anchor. Next day they sailed farther up this strait, "and passed between two small islands which made one of the finest prospects in the world.” The fertility of the country excited their admiration. Hils covered with vineyards bounded the prospect. Walnut, chesnut, plum, and pear trees abounded; and they found the country well “ stocked with stags, wild goats and bears, which are good for food, and not fierce as in other countries; some think they are better than our pork.” Turkey cocks and swans were also common; and other beasts and birds of unknown names, but “extraordinary relishing."
Here Hennepin was anxious that La Salle should plant a colony, representing to him the advantages which the situation held out for trade, but having at heart the preaching of the gospel to the ignorant nations round about. La Salle would not listen to this advice, but told Hennepin that he was surprised at his proposal, considering the great zeal for discovery which a few months back he had exhibited.
Passing through the lake to which they gave the name of Saint Claire (called by the Indians Otsi Keta) and which he describes as being " far less than any of the rest, and of a circular figure, about six leagues in diameter, according to the observations of our pilot,” they entered, on the third of August, Lake Huron. This name is derived from the Hurons inhabiting its banks, who are thus named from having “ their hair so burned that their head resembles the head of a wild boar. The savages themselves called it the Lake Kareguondy." Its circumference he estimated at about seven hundred leagues, its length two hundred, but its breadth very unequal.
Steering north-northwest they crossed a bay called Sakinam (Saginaw), which he computes to be thirty leagues in breadth. A storm overtook them on the night of the twenty-fifth, which increased in violence on the following day. Knowing not whither to run for shelter, they suffered their ship to run at the mercy of the wind. M. la Salle, though a man of courage, declared that they were undone, and all, falling on their knees, betook themselves to their prayers, the pilot excepted, whom they could never compel to pray. He cursed and swore all the time at M. la Salle for bringing him hither to make him perish in a nasty lake, and lose the glory he had acquired by his long and happy navigations on the ocean."
The wind having somewhat abated, they hoisted a sail and got to Missilimakinak (Michilimackinack), where they “anchored in a bay at six fathoms water, upon a slimy white bottom, a bay sheltered by the coast and a bank from the southwest to the north, but exposed to the south wind, which is violent in that country. The Hurons inhabited the point of Missilimakinak, the Outtaourts (Ottawas) dwelt to the north of them. The former, who were acquainted with fire-arms, and who had learned that a discharge of them was the greatest mark of honor amongst Europeans, favored the voyagers with a salute. Fish and Indian corn formed the ordinary food of these tribes. Those living on the “Superior Lake” sowed no corn, the fogs stifling it, but subsisted chiefly by hunting and catching white-fish. Some of the men went into the country to trade, and did not return until November, but M. la Salle having learned that the navigation of Lake Illinois Michigan) was dangerous in winter, felt constrained to set sail on the sccond of Septem ber, without them.
Lake Illinois, Hennepin informs us, means “the Lake of Men, for the word Illinois signifies a man of full age in the vigor of his strength.” He estimates its length at from one hundred and twenty to one hundred and thirty leagues, its breadth at forty leagues. He adds, that the Miamis call it Mischigonong (Michigan. )
At the mouth of the Bay of Puans (Green Bay ) they landed, on an island inhabited by some of the Poutouata mies, where they found some men who had been sent out the year before by M. !a Salle, to trade with the natives, impatiently waiting their arrival. The chief of the Poutouatamies, who had been in Canada, and who held Count Frontenac in great respect, received them with much kindness, and had the Calumet dance performed before them. A storm, which shortly after arose, enabled this brave chief to give them another proof of his good will, for seeing the ship tossed by the waves, and not knowing it had strength to resist them, he ventured out to their assistance in a little boat. Having got on board, he told them he would at any time risk his life for the children of Onnontio, the name given by the Indians to Count Frontenac.
of the origin of the name of the Bay of Puans, Hennepin gives this account: “The savages who now inhabit the land surrounding this bay had deserted their former habitation, because of some stinking (in French puans) waters towards the sea, that annoyed them."
Here M. la Salle, without consulting any one, resolved to send their vessel back, “ laden with furs and skins, to discharge his debts.', The pilot and firemen sailed in her on the eighteenth of September, It was afterwards learnt that they came to anchor to the north of Lake Michigan, and were advised by the Indians to sail near the coast, but the cursing pilot refused to hearken to them, “who," says Hennepin, “ generally speaking, have more sense than the Europeans think at first;" and would steer as he pleased. A storm overtook them, and they were heard of no more, to the especial grief, doubtless, of La Salle's creditors. · On the nineteenth of September our voyagers left the island to continue their voyage, fourteen men in all, in four canoes, and shortly encountered a storm in the night. They contrived to get ashore on the next day, and had to wait four days until the lake grew calm again. Their hunting was unsuccessful, as they killed nothing but a porcupine. On the twenty-fifth they resumed their voyage ; but after rowing all day, and the greater part of the night, along the western shore of the lake, the wind obliged them again to land. They remained for two days upon a rock, with no protection but their clothes against the rain and snow. A little drift wood which came ashore enabled them to make a small fire. They ventured to embark again on the twenty-eighth, but the wind, towards night, drove them on shore, where, on a rock covered with bushes,