Jolliet, Or Joliet, Louis, one of the early explorers of the Mississippi, born in Quebec in 1645, died in 1700. His father was the smith of the settlement, but placed his son at the Jesuit college, where he made rapid progress and evinced a decided taste for hydrography. He received the tonsure and minor orders in 1662, and graduated in 1666. He soon after abandoned his design of becoming a priest, and went west, where he spent some years in trade, acquiring a knowledge of Indian languages and of western topography. This led to his selection by Talon in 1672 to push through to the Mississippi. He and Pere Marquette studied over the route, drawing up maps from their own knowledge and Indian reports, laying down rivers, tribes, and natural features. They started from Michilimackinac May 17,1673, and proceeded to Green bay. Then they ascended the Fox river to an Indian town, where they obtained guides to the Wisconsin, and on June 17, 1673, entered the Mississippi. They found some Illinois 60 leagues lower down, near the mouth of the Des Moines, but passed the Missouri, the Piesa or Painted Rocks, and the Ohio, without encountering other Indians. They soon met a tribe not named, then the Mitchi-gamea, and finally the Arkansas. Here they found that the Indians had intercourse with Europeans; and having gone far enough to be certain that the river flowed into the gulf of Mexico and not into the Pacific, they turned back up the river, July 17, ascended the Illinois, and reached Lake Michigan. Jolliet at once set out to report his success, but his canoe upset in the Lachine rapids near Montreal, and he lost his men and his valuable maps and papers, barely escaping with his life.
His report from memory was necessarily brief, and his map less accurate than that which Pere Marquette had drawn and retained. Although he continued to study the topography, and by maps from time to time embodied all new data of discovery, he was not allowed to continue his researches in the west, but made an expedition in the king's service to Hudson bay. His modest merits were thrown in the shade by the pretensions of La Salle, who had won Frontenac's favor. As if to keep Jolliet as far as possible from the Mississippi, he was rewarded in 1680 by a grant of the seigneury of Anticosti island. He devoted himself to the development of its fisheries and trade, and from this time signed himself Jolliet d'Anti-costy. He was also appointed royal hydrogra-pher at Quebec, and his numerous maps still extant show that his title was not a nominal one. Few men contributed more to the geography of the continent at that time. In 1697 he obtained the seigneury of Joliette, which still belongs to his family. Among his descendants in 1874 are Archbishop Taschereau of Quebec and Archbishop Tache of Red River.