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Pathfinders of the West eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 264 pages of information about Pathfinders of the West.
traders from the wilderness of the Upper Country wintered, young Pierre Gaultier de Varennes de la Verendrye, at the ambitious age of fourteen, determined that he would become a discoverer.[2] At eighteen he was fighting in New England, at nineteen in Newfoundland, at twenty-three in Europe at the battle of Malplaquet, where he was carried off the field with nine wounds.  Eager for more distinguished service, he returned to Canada in his twenty-seventh year, only to find himself relegated to an obscure trading post in far Northern wilds.  Then the boyhood ambitions reawakened.  All France and Canada, too, were ringing with projects for the discovery of the Western Sea.  Russia was acting.  France knew it.  The great priest Charlevoix had been sent to Canada to investigate plans for the venture, and had recommended an advance westward through the country of the Sioux; but the Sioux[3] swarmed round the little fort at Lake Pepin on the Mississippi like angry wasps.  That way, exploration was plainly barred.  Nothing came of the attempt except a brisk fur trade and a brisker warfare on the part of the Sioux.  At the lonely post of Nepigon, vague Indian tales came to De la Verendrye of “a great river flowing west” and “a vast, flat country devoid of timber” with “large herds of cattle.”  Ochagach, an old Indian, drew maps on birch bark showing rivers that emptied into the Western Sea.  De la Verendrye’s smouldering ambitions kindled.  He hurried to Michilimackinac.  There the traders and Indians told the same story.  Glory seemed suddenly within De la Verendrye’s grasp.  Carried away with the passion for discovery that ruled his age, he took passage in the canoes bound for Quebec.  The Marquis Charles de Beauharnois had become governor.  His brother Claude had taken part in the exploration of the Mississippi.  The governor favored the project of the Western Sea.  Perhaps Russia’s activity gave edge to the governor’s zest; but he promised De la Verendrye the court’s patronage and prestige.  This was not money.  France would not advance the enthusiast one sou, but granted him a monopoly of the fur trade in the countries which he might discover.  The winter of 1731-1732 was spent by De la Verendrye as the guest of the governor at Chateau St. Louis, arranging with merchants to furnish goods for trade; and on May 19 the agreement was signed.  By a lucky coincidence, the same winter that M. de la Verendrye had come down to Quebec, there had arrived from the Mississippi fort, his nephew, Christopher Dufrost, Sieur de la Jemmeraie, who had commanded the Sioux post and been prisoner among the Indians.  So M. de la Verendrye chose Jemmeraie for lieutenant.

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