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The French

In April 1534, [Jacquez Cartier] left France for the "New World" in search of gold, spices and a new passage way to Asia. On June 9, 1534, he sailed into the eastern waters of the St. Lawrence River leading to discovery of large portions of Canada. Two years would pass before he would returned to France and report his findings. [View: French Colonies in America]

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Section of 1740 New France Map (click on map for full size version and other French maps of this era.). Source: The National Atlas of Canada

Jean [Nicolet] discovered Michigan in 1634. His travel took him through the Gulf of St. Lawrence, upward on the Ottawa River, west on Lake Nipissing entering into Georgian Bay onto Lake Huron and arriving in northern Michigan. Later, others would follow using the southwest approach of the St. Lawrence River, then Lake Ontario and Erie to what is now Detroit.

The first map naming the great bay, now Saginaw Bay, was done in 1680, it was called the "Sakinam Bay". It included information showing the Sauk Indians had already been destroyed at that time. And, that [Father Pere Jacques Marquette], a French missionary had thoroughly explored the west coast of Lake Huron including a crossing of the Sakinam Bay in about 1668. In 1686, Jesuit Engelran (Enjalran) was assigned the task of creating missions in the Saginaw region. However, no permanent missions end up being established in valley. Very few establishments were ever made by the French during the 200 plus years of their reign. [View: Fort Michilimackinac]

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Jacques Cartier

Pere Jacques Marquette
HISTORY: The French were the first whites to enter Michigan.