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Document Number: AJ-049
Author: Galinée, René de Bréhan de, died 1678
Title: Journey of Dollier & Galinée, 1669-1670
Source: Kellogg, Louise P. (editor). Early Narratives of the Northwest, 1634-1699. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1917). Pages 163-209.
Pages/Illustrations: 49 / 0
Citable URL:

Author Note

René de Bréhant de Galínee (1645-1678) was a member of the order of St. Sulpice at Montreal. He was trained as a mathematician and mapmaker, and this account shows his adept writing ability. He returned to France in 1671. The Sulpicians competed with the Jesuits and wanted to extend their missionary work among the western Indian tribes.

François Dollier de Casson (1636-1701) was also a Sulpician missionary, who accompanied Galínee on their expedition to Lakes Ontario and Erie. His account of the mission was lost. Dolllier de Casson became the Sulpician Superior in Montreal and helped develop the city in the late 1600s, recommending a street design and encouraging canal development.

Galínee’s and Dollier de Casson’s Expedition, 1669-1670

Eager to compete with the Jesuits for conversion of the Indian Nations on the western Great Lakes, Dollier de Casson and Galínee set out from Montreal July 6, 1669, with twenty-seven men in seven canoes led by two canoes of Seneca Indians. Daniel de Remy, governor of New France extended patent letters to explore the woods for possible trade and initiate conversion of the Indians living in the Ohio region. Galínee provides superb descriptions of canoe travel and events during their two-year mission. He describes how the Algonkins stitched together birchbark sheets for use during stormy weather and for winter shelter. They canoed upriver to Lake Ontario on the St. Lawrence River, past the Thousand Islands, where they enjoyed excellent fishing and hunting, smoking meat to preserve it for later in the trip. They continued along the southern Lake Ontario shore where the Seneca enjoyed easy passage through their tribal lands. The Seneca were the largest of the Iroquois nations, with four villages and three thousand men, women, and children. At this time the Seneca engaged in trade with the Dutch, and Jesuit Fr. Jacques Fremín had established a mission among them. Galínee also describes a variety of gruesome tortures the Seneca applied to unfortunate captives, enjoyed by the elders and children who participated in the “entertainment.”

Galínee and Dollier de Chasson acquired a Dutch trader as guide and left the Seneca. traveling west on Lake Ontario they reached the Niagara River and Niagara Falls, becoming the first European observers to describe it. On the northern shores of Lake Erie, they encountered a former Jesuit, Louis Jolliet, who was on a mission to investigate the copper mine potential in Northern Michigan. They wintered over in a valley near Port Dover, Ontario, for more than five months, and set out when the ice opened in March 1670. They continued west to Lake Huron and, following its eastern shore, returned by the Lake Nipissing portage and the Ottawa River, arriving at Montreal on June 18, 1670.

Document Note

The manuscript was found in 1847 by Pierre Margry, who copied it and furnished the transcripts to Francis Parkman and several Canadian historians. In 1875, the Historical Society of Montreal published a version from which several important paragraphs were omitted, and in which many verbal changes were made. Margry republished it in his Découverts et Établissements de Francais dans l’Amérique Septentrionale, vol. I, pages 112-166. This was collated with the original manuscript and first translated into English by James H. Coyne, who published the narrative bilingually in volume four of the Ontario Historical Society Papers and Records. The original manuscript is in the Bibliothéque Nationale in Paris, in vol. 30 of the “Collection Renaudot.”

Other Internet and Reference Sources

On Metis Culture, 1665-1669,

The Catholic Encyclopedia has a biography on François Dollier de Casson at:

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