La Salle watching for the Griffon

La Salle Loses Griffon

This was a sad day for Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, one of the great early explorers of Canada. He and his colleagues had built the Griffon, which was the first ship to sail the Great Lakes above Niagara Falls. In September, 1679, after the Griffon had taken them through Lake Erie and Lake Huron, they arrived at what is now the home of the famous Green Bay Packers football team in Wisconsin.

There La Salle loaded the Griffon with furs which were to be transported to Montreal to pay his bills, while he explored the Illinois River. La Salle was always looking for the great river that might prove to be the short route to China. He talked about this so much that his men jokingly called the rapids above Montreal La Chine meaning China, and they are still called the Lachine Rapids today.

It was on January 8, 1680, that La Salle heard the news that the Griffon had disappeared with all hands and its valuable cargo. The loss of the ship remained a mystery for two hundred years until the wreckage of an old ship was found off Manitoulin Island, Lake Huron. Later six skeletons were found in a cave not far away. The wreckage is believed to be the Griffon, and the skeletons, the remains of the members of its crew.

The ship may have been sabotaged since La Salle had many enemies. Often, when he was on his trips, his men would desert him, and La Salle would have to continue alone. Fortunately, the Indians were friendly and he was frequently helped by them.

Eventually, La Salle did manage to lead a large group of men down the Mississippi to claim Louisiana for France. He was murdered by one of his own men while on a campaign to establish a colony on the Gulf of Mexico.



-1801    The Lower Canada Assembly began the session that ordered walls around Montreal to be demolished. It also licensed billiard tables.

-1814    Selkirk settlers put an embargo on supplies leaving the Red River.

-1830    The Upper Canada Assembly began the session that rejected an act legalizing marriages by Methodist ministers.

-1879    The first issue of La Gazette d'Ottawa was published.

-1948    W. L. Mackenzie King established a record for being prime minister longer than any other government leader in the British Commonwealth. General A. G. L. McNaughton was appointed permanent delegate from Canada to the   United Nations and Representative of Canada on the Security Council.

-1954    The world's longest pipeline flow of crude oil, starting from Alberta, reached Sarnia, Ontario-1,770 miles.