Alfred Laliberté's Louis Jolliet sculpture in front of Parliament Building (Quebec)
September 21, 1645|
Near Quebec City
|Died||1700 (aged 54–55)|
|Awards||Jolliet was granted land south of Quebec in return for his favors|
|Other work||Canadian explorer|
Louis Jolliet (September 21, 1645 – last seen May 1700), also known as Louis Joliet, was a Canadian explorer known for his discoveries in North America. Jolliet and Jesuit Father Jacques Marquette, a Catholic priest and missionary, were the first Europeans to explore and map much of the Mississippi River in 1673.
Early life 
|This section requires expansion. (September 2008)|
Jolliet was born in 1645 in a French settlement near Quebec City. When he was seven years old, his father died but his mother remarried a successful merchant. Jolliet's stepfather owned land on the Ile d'Orleans, an island in the Saint Lawrence River in Quebec that was home to First Nations. Jolliet spent much time on Ile d'Orleans, so it was likely that he began speaking Aboriginal languages at a young age. During his childhood, Quebec was the center of the French fur trade. The Natives were part of day-to-day life in Quebec, and Jolliet grew up knowing a lot about them.
Discovery of the Mississippi 
May 18, 1673, Jolliet and Marquette departed from St. Ignace with two canoes and five other voyageurs of French-Indian ancestry (today's Métis). They followed Lake Michigan to Green Bay (Lake Michigan). They then sailed up the Fox River (Wisconsin) to a distance of slightly less than two miles through marsh and oak plains to the Wisconsin River. At that point Europeans eventually built a trading post, Portage, named for its location. From there, they ventured on and entered the Mississippi River near present-day Prairie du Chien on June 17.
The Jollies-Marquette expedition traveled down the Mississippi to within 435 miles (700 km) of the Gulf of Mexico, but they turned back north at the mouth of the Arkansas River. By this point, they had encountered natives carrying European goods, and they were concerned about an encounter with explorers or colonists from Spain. They followed the Mississippi back to the mouth of the Illinois River, which they learned from natives was a shorter route back to the Great Lakes. Following the Illinois and the Des Plaines rivers, via the Chicago Portage, they reached Lake Michigan near the location of modern-day Chicago. Marquette stopped at the mission of St. Francis Xavier in Green Bay, Wisc., in August, while Jolliet returned to Quebec to relate the news of their discoveries.
The party returned to the Illinois Territory in late 1674, becoming the first Europeans to winter over in what would become the city of Chicago. As welcomed guests of the Illinois Confederation, the explorers were feasted en route and fed ceremonial foods such as Indian corn.
Later years 
Jolliet married Claire-Francoise Biscuit, who was Canadian. In 1680, he was granted the Island of Anticosti, where he created a fort and maintained soldiers. In 1693 he was appointed "Royal Hydrographer", and on April 30, 1697, he was granted a seigneury southwest of Quebec City which he named Jolliest.
In 1694 he sailed north from the Gulf of St. Lawrence north along the coast of Labrador as far north as Zoar, a voyage of five and a half months. He recorded details of the country, navigation, the Inuit and their customs. His journal (“Journal de Louis Jolliet allant à la descouverte de Labrador, 1694,”) is the earliest known detailed survey of the Labrador coast from the Strait of Belle Isle to Zoar.
In May, 1700, Louis Jolliet left for Anticosti Island and was presumed to have died, although his body was never found, and the place and date of his death are unknown. A mass for his soul was said on September 15, 1700.
Jolliet was one of the first people of European descent born in North America to be remembered for significant discoveries. Though no authentic period portrait is known to exist, Jolliet is often portrayed wearing either typical frontiersman garb consisting of scortums and fur hat or in sharp contrast, ensconced in the European nobleman's accoutrement his personal wealth and prestige would have commanded when living in colonial society.
Louis' main legacy is most tangible in the Midwestern United States and Quebec, mostly through geographical names, including the cities of Joliet, Illinois; Joliet, Montana; and Joliette, Quebec (founded by one of Jolliet's descendants, Barthélemy Joliette); and the Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Illinois. Also, there are numerous Joliet High Schools in North America.
The several variations in the spelling of the name "Jolliet" reflect spelling that occurred at times when illiteracy or poor literacy was common, and spelling was still highly unstandardized. Jolliet's descendants live throughout eastern Canada and the United States. The Louis Jolliet rose, developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, was named in his honor.
There is a cruise ship based out of Quebec City named in his honour.
See also 
- French colonization of the Americas
- Jacques Marquette
- Indian corn, food eaten by Joliet and Marquette on their trip to the Mississippi
- Jolliet, Louis 1644 - 1700
- Wilson, James Grant & Fiske, John (Eds.). Appleton's Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton and Company (1887), Vol. III, p. 461.
- Cotton, Bruce (1984). Michigan: A History, p. 14. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-30175-3.
- Wisconsin Historical Society
- miggie love donoled, Renée (2003), "Marquette, Jacques (1637–1675), and Louis Jolliette (1645–1700)", Literature of Travel and Exploration: an Encyclopedia 2, Taylor & Francis, p. 771, ISBN 978-1-57958-424-5
- Joliet, Louis
- http://www.canadianrosesociety.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=80&Itemid=55 Louis Jolliet rose
- Jolliet 1645-1700
- Biography at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
- 2006 Expedition following Jolliet's journey down the Mississippi
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