[joh-lee-et, joh-lee-et; Fr. zhaw-lyey]
Jolliet or Joliet, Louis, 1645-1700, French explorer, joint discoverer with Jacques Marquette of the upper Mississippi River, b. Quebec prov., Canada. After a year's study of hydrography in France and some years as a trader and trapper on the Great Lakes, Jolliet was appointed (1672) as leader of an expedition in search of the Mississippi. He and Father Marquette, with five voyageurs, set out from St. Ignace in May, 1673, went to Green Bay, ascended the Fox River, portaged (at the site of Portage, Wis.) to the Wisconsin River, and descended to the Mississippi. The group followed the west bank south until they passed the mouth of the Arkansas River; then, having convinced themselves that the river emptied into the Gulf of Mexico, they ascended its eastern bank. They came to the Illinois River, ascended it, and, on the site of modern Chicago, portaged to the Chicago River, and again reached Lake Michigan. Marquette remained in the West while Jolliet went east to make his report, but in the Lachine Rapids, near Montreal, Jolliet's canoe overturned and his records were lost. His brief narrative, written from memory, is in essential agreement with Marquette's, the chief source account of the journey. Jolliet was rewarded with the gift of Anticosti Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which was, however, seized by the British while Jolliet was absent on explorations in Labrador and around Hudson Bay. In 1697 he was made royal professor of hydrography and given a small seigniory near Quebec.

See biographies by J. Delanglez (1948) and V. L. S. Eifert (1961); M. S. Scanlon, Trails of the French Explorers (1956).

Louis Jolliet, also known as Louis Joliet with only one L (September 21, 1645 – 1700), was a French Canadian explorer. Jolliet is important for his discoveries in North America. Jolliet and missionary Father Jacques Marquette, a Catholic priest, were the first white men to explore and map the Mississippi River.

Early life

Later years

Jolliet married Claire-Francoise Bissot, who was Canadian. In 1680 he was granted the Island of Anticosti, where he erected a fort and had some soldiers. In 1693 he was appointed "Royal Hydrographer", and on April 30, 1697, he was granted the seigneury (fiefdom) of Jolliet, southwest of Quebec City, making him a minor "lord", roughly the colonial equivalent of a hereditary baronet with the title of "Sieur Jolliet" (Sir Jolliet). Louis Jolliet died some time in the month of May, 1700, being lost on a trip to one of his land holdings, he then was never found.

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.


As is the case with Jacques Marquette, Governor General Frontenac and La Salle, Louis Jolliet's legacy is most tangible in the Midwest (US) and Quebec (Canada), mostly through geographical names. Most notable among these include the cities of Joliet, Illinois, Joliet, Montana and Joliette, Quebec which was founded by one of Jolliet's descendants, Barthélemy Joliette. Discrepancies in the spelling of the original name of "Jolliet" reflect interpretations based on pronunciation at times when illiteracy was common.

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.

See also


External links

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