Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye

Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye (November 17, 1685 – December 5, 1749) was a French Canadian military officer, fur trader and explorer.

Early Life

Born in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, he was the youngest son of René Gaultier de Varennes and Marie Boucher, the daughter of Pierre Boucher, the first Governor of Trois-Rivières. The Gaultier were part of the Ancien Régime whose family of aristocrats came from the Anjou area of France.

Pierre was educated at a Jesuit seminary in Quebec, but from the age of 14 received a cadet’s commission in the colonial militia. In 1704 and 1705 he took part in the armed struggle known as Queen Anne's War in the United States.

At 22 years of age, he enlisted in the French Army, fought in Flanders during the War of the Spanish Succession and was seriously wounded. After recovering from his injuries and being released as a prisoner of war, he returned to Canada and married in 1712. He farmed and fur traded to support his family until 1727 when he moved to Nipigon to command that fort.


In 1728 he was appointed commandant of the French posts, including Fort Kaministiquia, (present day Thunder Bay, Ontario), on the north shore of Lake Superior. It was during this time as commandant that La Vérendrye came to know Cree guide Auchagah, who produced a map of canoe routes between Lake Superior and Lake Winnipeg based on his own experience as well as that of several other Crees. [ [http://www.newberry.org/smith/exhibits/mapsnations/exhibit1999.html] The Newberry Library]

In 1731 he began his explorations in earnest. One of the main objectives was to find a route to the Western Sea. Between 1731 and 1737 he built several trading posts between Lake Superior and Lake Winnipeg, assisted by his four sons and a nephew. In 1732 Fort St. Charles was constructed near Angle Inlet on Lake of the Woods. This fort was an important base of operations until at least 1760 because of the fur trade and its location between Montreal and forts farther west. These were the first European establishments west of Lake Superior since Jacques de Noyon wintered over at Rainy Lake in 1688.

In 1738 he travelled with Assiniboine guides southwest to the area of the Missouri River in what is now North Dakota. There he was introduced to the Mantannes (Mandans), a Siouxan agricultural people living in permanent villages along the Missouri. In conjunction with that trip he established two forts, Fort Rouge and Fort La Reine, in what is now Manitoba. Two of his sons explored the area southwest of the Mantannes, reaching the Big Horn Mountains, the Black Hills and returning to the Missouri by Pierre, South Dakota. Other forts built to the north and west by people under his command created a large area in the west for French traders. It may have been on this trip that he found the alleged Vérendrye Runestone.

He resigned as commander of the Western Posts in 1744 after being unable to convince his superiors that further exploration of rivers like the Saskatchewan would lead them to rivers flowing west into the Western Sea. In 1746 he again became the western commander. In this capacity, he returned to the east in 1747. While planning further exploration of the Saskatchewan River and points west, he died at Montreal, Quebec on December 5, 1749.


La Verendrye Provincial Park in Ontario and La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve in Quebec are named after him, as well as Verendrye Electric Cooperative in North Dakota.


ee also

*French colonization of the Americas
*History of North Dakota
*Christopher Dufrost de La Jemeraye
*François de La Vérendrye
*Jean Baptiste de La Vérendrye
*Louis-Joseph Gaultier de La Vérendrye
*Pierre Gaultier de La Vérendrye

External links

* [http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=1366 Biography at the "Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online"]
* [http://www.mhs.mb.ca/ Manitoba Historical Society - Various writings by Father Antoine Champagne]
*The Newberry Library [http://www.newberry.org/smith/exhibits/mapsnations/exhibit1999.html Maps and Nations Exhibit, 1999]
* [http://www.collectionscanada.ca/explorers/h24-1530-e.html The La Vérendryes: Family of Explorers] , Library and Archives Canada
*CathEncy|wstitle=Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, Sieur de Lavérendrye

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