Jean Nicolet

Jean Nicolet was a well known Coureur Des Bois, who first arrived in Kebec in 1618, settling amoung the Algonquins in Upper Ottawa, and the Nipissing on Allumette Island; learning their language and customs.  While on the island, he married a local woman and they had a daughter Euphrosine Marguerite, born in 1630.  At the age of 13, she would marry Jean Leblanc, but spent most of her life on the first “Indian Reservation’ in Canada at Sillery, where she died on September 30, 1689.

When the French were sent home by the Kirke brothers, Nicolet remained in the area, living with the Huron people where he learned of a tribe known as the Puans, or “People of the Sea”, whom he believed may be able to lead him to the Northwest Passage, and the riches of the Orient.  So when the French returned, Nicolet received permission to visit the Puans, who actually called themselves Winnibego, taking with him an embroidered silk robe, which he would wear when entertaining the Emperor of China, and two gold pistols as gifts from France.  Of course, we know he didn’t make it to China, but was able to gain the support of the local people and further open the interior for future trade.

However, in 1642, Jean, a non-swimmer, was drowned when his boat capsized; leaving Marguerite a widow at the age of 26.  Their first son Ignace, born on December 4, 1640; died soon after his birth.  Daughter Marguerite was born on April 21, 1642 and died January 21, 1722; at Montreal.  She married Jean-Baptiste Legardeur and had six children.

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