See biographies by J. Delanglez (1948) and V. L. S. Eifert (1961); M. S. Scanlon, Trails of the French Explorers (1956).
(born before Sept. 21, 1645, probably Beaupré, near Quebec—died after May 1700, Quebec province) French Canadian explorer and cartographer. He led an expedition in the Great Lakes region in 1669. In 1672 he was commissioned by the governor of New France to explore the Mississippi in the company of Jacques Marquette and five others. In 1673 the party set out in birchbark canoes across Lake Michigan, following the Fox and Wisconsin rivers to the Mississippi, then down the Mississippi to its confluence with the Arkansas. They concluded that the river flowed south to the Gulf of Mexico and not, as hoped, into the Pacific Ocean. After their return, Jolliet explored areas of Hudson Bay and the Labrador coast.
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Jolliet was one of the first people of European descent born in North America to be remembered for significant discoveries. Jolliet is a relatively familiar historical figure in both the United States and Canada. Though no authentic period portrait is known to exist Jolliet is often portrayed wearing either typical frontiersman garb consisting of Davy Crockett style buckskins 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 Jolliet died at an unknown location in Canada while on a trip to one of his land holdings. His remains were never found. His descendants live throughout Canada and the United States.