Shifting Sands: The Restoration of the Calumet Area

By Kenneth J. Schoon | Go to book overview

2
MARQUETTE AND THE
MARQUETTE PLAN

Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir people’s blood and probably
themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and
work…. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty.

Daniel H. Burnham, Plan of Chicago

FATHER JACQUES MARQUETTE AND HIS TWO COMPANIONS were the first known Europeans to travel through the Calumet Area. Before that, it is quite possible that French-Canadian coureurs de bois (runners of the woods) came to this area and traded with the Indians. The Calumet Area, whose waters and wetlands housed vast numbers of beaver, muskrat, and mink, would have been a tempting source of income to these men. However, because their trade was by French law illegal, they made no written records of their travels. Things changed in 1681 when the French government in Quebec decided to license this trade. That act initiated the era of legal trade by men who were then called voyageurs.

Father Marquette is practically a folk hero in the Lake Michigan area, in much the same way that Daniel Boone is in the Ohio Valley. Marquette arrived about one hundred years earlier than Boone, and both were brave explorers. Marquette’s mission, however, was to minister to the French soldiers on the expedition and to bring Christianity to the Indians in the Midwest.

Marquette made two trips to southern Lake Michigan. The first, in 1673, was with Louis Joliet and perhaps thirty French soldiers. The second started in the fall of 1674. On that trip he spent the winter in what is now Chicago’s South Side. According to author Ulrich Danckers, the following spring, feeling very ill, Marquette most likely took a route

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