Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
January 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, Sieur de La Vérendrye


La Vérendrye, Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, Sieur de (1685-1749), explorer and fur-trader, was born at Three Rivers, Canada, on November 17, 1685, the son of René Gaultier de Varennes, governor of Three Rivers. He entered the French army, and after serving in Canada and in Newfoundland took part in the campaigns in Flanders. He was severely wounded at the battle of Malplaquet in 1709; and shortly afterwards returned to Canada . He then engaged in the fur-trade, first at St. Maurice, and later at lake Nipigon. Here he conceived the idea of pushing westward in search of the Western Sea. He left Montreal for the West in 1731, and in the succeeding years he built a chain of fur-trading posts at Rainy lake, at the lake of the Woods, at lake Winnipeg, at the Red river, and on the Assiniboine river. In 1738 he visited the Mandan villages on the Missouri. In 1742 two of his sons penetrated far to the south-west, and possibly reached the foothills of the Rocky mountains. His operations, however, were not successful from a financial point of view; and in 1743, broken in health and burdened with debt, he was compelled to return to Montreal to face his creditors. He died in Montreal on December 5, 1749. In 1712 he married Marie-Anne, daughter of Louis Dandonneau Du Sable, sieur de l'Ile du Pas, and Jeanne Lenoir; and by her he had four sons and one daughter. In September, 1749, he received a belated acknowledgment of his services, was created a chevalier of St. Louis, and was promoted to the rank of a captain in the Marine troops.


See L. J. Burpee (ed.), The journals and letters of La Vérendrye (Toronto, The Champlain Society, 1926) ; L. A. Prud'homme, Pierre Gaultier de Vayennes, sieur de La Vérendrye (Trans. Roy. Soc. Can ., 1905) ; Abbé I. Caron, Pierre Gaultier de Varennes de La Vérendrye et ses fils (Bull. rech. hist ., 1917); B. Sulte, La Vérenderie avant ses voyages au Nord-Ouest (Bull. rech. hist ., 1915), and A. S. Morton, La Vérendrye (Can. hist. rev ., 1928).



© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College