Bust of the explorer René-Robert Cavelier de La Salle displayed at Lachine City Hall
Cavelier de La Salle

Cavelier de La Salle was the first Frenchman to settle upstream from Sault Saint-Louis (Lachine Rapids), where he lived for close to two years. He called the then unnamed area Côte-Saint-Sulpice and attracted a few families to the settlement. But the role of colonizer did not suit the ambitions and temperament of a young man who dreamed of the Orient and of making grand discoveries.


In July 1669, La Salle set out from Montréal for the Great Lakes, where he believed he would find a passage to China. He was still pursuing the adolescent dream that had once led him to join the Jesuits with the aim of becoming a missionary in the Orient.

Frenchmen explore the New World

French colonists arriving in North America were quick to claim vast stretches of land. The network of navigable waterways leading to the Great Lakes and other inland areas enabled explorers and traders to roam the territory.