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TH) WESTERN SEA.-SCHEMES FOR REACHING IT. - JOURNEY
OF CHARLEVOIX. — THE Sioux Mission. - VARENNES DE LA VÉRENDRYE: HIS ENTERPRISE; HIS DISASTERS; VISITS THE MANDANS; HIS Sons; THEIR SEARCH FOR THE WESTERN SEA; THEIR ADVENTURES. — THE SNAKE INDIANS.— A GREAT WAR-PARTY. - THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS. — A PANIC. - RETURN OF THE BROTHERS; THEIR WRONGS AND THEIR FATE.
In the disastrous last years of Louis XIV. the court gave little thought to the New World; but under the regency of the Duke of Orléans interest in American affairs revived. Plans for reaching the Mer de l'Ouest, or Pacific Ocean, were laid before the Regent in 1716. It was urged that the best hope was in sending an expedition across the continent, seeing that every attempt to find a westward passage by Hudson Bay had failed. As starting-points and bases of supply for the expedition, it was proposed to establish three posts, one on the north shore of Lake Superior, at the mouth of the river Kaministiguia, another at Lac des Cristineaux, now called Lake of the Woods, and the third at Lake Winnipeg, - the last being what in American phrase is called the “jumping-off place," or the point where the expedition was to leave behind the last trace of civilization. These posts were to cost the Crown nothing; since by a device common in such cases, those who built and maintained them were to be paid by a monopoly of the fur-trade in the adjacent countries. It was admitted, however, that the subsequent exploration must be at the charge of the government, and would require fifty good men, at three hundred francs a year each, besides equipment and supplies. All things considered, it was reckoned that an overland way to the Pacific might be found for about fifty thousand francs, or ten thousand dollars.1
The Regent approved the scheme so far as to order the preliminary step to be taken by establishing the three posts, and in this same year, Lieutenant La Noue, of the colony troops, began the work by building a stockade at the mouth of the Kaministiguia. Little more was done in furtherance of the exploration till three years later, when the celebrated Jesuit, Charlevoix, was ordered by the Duke of Orléans to repair to America and gain all possible information concerning the Western Sea and the way to it.2
In the next year he went to the Upper Lakes,
1 Mémoire fait et arresté par le Conseil de Marine, 3 Février, 1717 ; Mémoire du Roy, 26 Juin, 1717.
Charlevoix au Comte de Morville, 1 Avril, 1723.