A young interpreter skirts the shores of Lake Superior about 1622.

Etienne Brule's discovery of Lake Superior


Brule, an interpreter for Champlain, journeyed into the far West with Huron guides in 1622 or 1623. He is believed to have communicated this adventure to his employer and to author Gabriel Sagard-Théodat. The only evidence of his trip to Lake Superior consists of two documents. The first is a handful of scattered references in a book written by Sagard a few years after Brule's death, given here in their entirety in French and English. The other is a reasonably accurate depiction of Lake Superior on a map published in 1632 by Champlain (given elsewhere in Turning Points), who had himself never set foot near the lake; many scholars assume its information came from Champlain's protege Brule. Unfortunately Sagard's mentions of what Brule saw are tantalizingly few and very vague, and the distances he stated are wildly impossible, so scholars have been reluctant to say Brule reached Wisconsin before Nicolet. Examine the fragmentary evidence communicated by Sagard as shown here and decide for yourself. After returning east, Brule was later killed by his angry Huron hosts.


Related Topics: Early Native Peoples
Explorers, Traders, and Settlers
Arrival of the First Europeans
Creator: Sagard-Théodat, Gabriel, 17th cent.
Pub Data: Excerpts from Histoire du Canada, et voyages que les Frères mineurs recollects y ont faicts pour la conversion des infidèles depuis l'an 1615 (Paris: Librairie Tross, 1866. ), as collected and translated in: Butterfield, Consul Willshire. History of Brulé's discoveries and explorations, 1610-1626 (Cleveland: Helman-Taylor Co., 1898): Note XXII to Appendix.
Citation: Sagard-Theodat, Gabriel. "Excerpts related to Etienne Brule's Discovery of Lake Superior" as collected in Butterfield, Consul Willshire. History of Brulé's Discoveries and Explorations, 1610-1626 (Cleveland, 1898): Note XXII to Appendix. Online facsimile at:  http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints/search.asp?id=52; Visited on: 7/31/2014
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