IN preceding chapters the chief events of lake history, from the period of French discovery to the beginning of modern commerce, succeeding the war of 1812, have been narrated.
The chronology of the lakes becomes a matter of greater detail as this inland traffic gradually expands, and the following pages will chronicle the more important events which have occurred since the lakes became the highway for great commercial purposes.
Preliminary to this chronology, a brief review of the earlier history is presented.
In the sixteenth century the St. Lawrence River was discovered and navigated by French adventurers.
In the seventeenth century the system of the Great Lakes was discovered and occupied by the same nation.
During the eighteenth century there was a constant struggle for the control of these vast inland seas, and, when the war of 1812 ended, their shores were rapidly populated.
Commerce properly began with that permanent settlement.
Briefly, then, the preparatory events were as follows:
- Brest established by the French as a fishing station on the straits of Belle Isle.
- About this year Portuguese also explored the region of the mouth of the St. Lawrence River.
- Verrazano, a French explorer, visited the region of the St. Lawrence River and concluded that an immense continent lay to the west.
- May 10, Cartier, sent by King Frances I of France, arrived off Newfoundland.
- May 27, Cartier reached the straits of Belle Isle.
- July 2, Cartier reached and named the Bay of Chaleur.
- Cartier, on his second voyage, reached and named Assumption island, August 15, and discovered the mouth of the St. Lawrence river.
- September 1, reached the mouth of the Saguenay River.
- October 2, reached Hochelaga, near Mont Royale, now Montreal.
- Cartier made his third voyage to the St. Lawrence River.
- Pontgrave attempted colonization and failed.
- June 7, Champlain started on an exploration of the Saguenay river.
- About this time he first heard of the “Immense Sea of Salt Water” to the west.
- Lake Huron discovered by Le Caron, the Recollect friar, and by Champlain, the great navigator.
- Lake Ontario discovered later in the same year by Champlain.
- Lake Superior discovered by Champlain’s interpreter, Etienne Brule, during this year or earlier.
- Lake Michigan discovered by Jean Nicolet, an employe of a French fur trading company.
- He visited Green Bay.
- Raymbault and Jogues, two missionaries, traversed Lake Superior in search of a passage to China.
- Iroquois destroyed Huron missions near Lake Huron.
- Menard, the missionary, searched for the Hurons on the Lake Superior region.
- Allouez established an Indian mission at La Pointe.
- Marquette established an Indian mission at Sault Ste. Marie.
- Lake Erie probably discovered by Joliet.
- Allouez established an Indian mission at Green Bay.
- First recorded passage through Detroit river, made by Sulpitian priests.
- Marquette founded the mission of St. Ignace at the Straits of Mackinac.
- Rude fort erected at Mackinac.
- St. Lusson, in behalf of Louis XIV, of France, takes formal possession of the Great Lakes at St. Mary’s Falls.
- Joliet and Marquette discovered the Mississippi.
- Fort Frontenac erected by LaSalle on the present site of Kingston, Ontario.
- La Salle built the little bark Frontenac, on Lake Ontario, the first vessel on the Great Lakes.
- Schooner Griffin, the first vessel on Lake Erie, launched on the Upper Niagara river in June, entered Lake Erie August 7, encountered a severe storm on Lake Huron, reached Green Bay early in September.
- Loss of the Griffin on her return trip.
- Governor De la Barre, of New France, attempted to crush the Iroquois.
- Duluth built a French fort at St. Joseph, on the St. Clair River, the site of Fort Gratiot.
- English traders visited Mackinaw.
- French capture two English trading parties on Lake Huron.
- French expedition against the Iroquois met with defeat.
- Fort Niagara built by the French.
- Fort St. Joseph burned and abandoned by the French.
- Fort Niagara abandoned by the French.
- Fort Frontenac destroyed.
- French temporarily lost command of the Great Lakes.
- Fort Frontenac rebuilt by the French.
- French fort erected at Detroit by Cadillac.
- French fort at Detroit partially destroyed by Indians.
- French fort at Detroit rebuilt by Tonti.
- Governor Burnett, of New York, began the erection of a trading post at Oswego.
- New York Legislature prohibited New York merchants from trading with Canada for furs.
- French rebuilt Fort Niagara.
- English launched two vessels at Oswego.
- French fortify scattered posts from Lake Ontario to Lake Superior.
- Little Fort Niagara, one and one-half miles above Niagara Falls, completed by the French.
- English built two sloops, the Oswego and the Ontario, at Oswego, besides several other boats.
- French fortify and strengthen their lake forts.
- French captured Oswego, six sloops of war, 100 boats and large munitions of war.
- Colonel Bradstreet captured Fort Frontenac, and with it seven vessels.
- Fort Niagara surrendered to the English, who thereby secured control of Lakes Erie and Ontario.
- Major Rogers took possession of Detroit.
- English took the French posts at Mackinac, St. Mary’s, Green Bay and St. Joseph’s and gained control of the entire lake region.
- English built at Detroit the schooners Beaver and Gladwyn.
- Pontiac’s conspiracy against the English.
- Fall of Fort Sandusky, May 16,
- Indians captured St. Joseph’s Fort, May 25.
- Massacre at Mackinaw, June 4.
- English post at St. Mary’s and at Green Bay abandoned.
- Presqu’Isle surrendered, June 17.
- Detroit invested by Pontiac’s Indians.
- Gallant service aboard the small armed schooners Beaver and Gladwyn.
- Beaver wrecked at Cat Fish creek, 14 miles from Buffalo, August 28.
- Massacre at Devil’s Hole, Niagara river, September 14.
- The New York Mercury of 1763 says: “There are five brigs from 30 to 80 tons, and 18 armed flush-decked cutters on Lake Ontario. The navigation of that lake will soon equal for trade that of the Caspian Sea.”
- Sir William Johnson attempted to pacify the savages.
- Bradstreet relieved Detroit.
- Captain Howard regained Mackinaw, and English detachments reoccupy Green Bay and St. Mary’s.
- Great Britain again in complete control of the lakes.
- Three new vessels built, the Victory, the Boston and the Royal Charlotte.
- English fur trade at Mackinaw began, and extended rapidly.
- The Brunswick launched.
- The Enterprise built at Detroit.
- Sloop Betsey launched.
- The Charity, of 70 tons, launched at Niagara.
- The Chippewa, Lady Charlotte and Beaver 2nd launched.
- Beaver 2nd lost near Sandusky in May with her entire crew of 17 men.
- Schooner Hope, 81 tons, built at Detroit.
- Sloop Angelica, 66 tons, built at Detroit.
- Sloop launched on Lake Superior by the English trader Henry and others in an attempt to develop copper mining.
- British brig-of-war General Gage, 154 tons, built at Detroit.
- Schooner Dunmore, 106 tons, built at Detroit.
- The Lake Superior sloop sold by Henry to fur traders.
- Sloop Felicity, 55 tons, and Schooner Faith, 61 tons, built at Detroit.
- Sloop Adventure, 34 tons, built at Detroit.
- Sloop Wyandotte, 47 tons, built at Detroit.
- British schooner Ontario, probably built several years earlier, lost during a fearful gale between Niagara and Oswego, with 172 English soldiers.
- The Ontario carried 22 guns, and was commanded by Captain Andrews.
- The soldiers lost were a detachment of the King’s Own Regiment, commanded by Colonel Burton.
- Spanish detachment from St. Louis captured St. Joseph (the British garrison retreating to Detroit), and fly the flag of Spain over Lake Michigan.
- The Spaniards, fearing an attack from Detroit, retired to the Mississippi a few days later.
- By treaty the boundary between Canada and the United States established along the middle of the chain of Great Lakes.
- Northwest Fur Company organized at Quebec, and established posts at various points on the upper lakes.
- Northwest Fur Company built at Detroit the schooner Beaver, 34-feet keel, 13-feet beam and 4-feet hold.
- Unsuccessful attempt to take the Beaver up St. Mary’s Falls.
- Hudson Bay Company owned a vessel called the Speedwell on Lake Superior, and others on Lake Ontario.
- John Fellows, of Massachusetts, crossed Lake Ontario in the first American boat on the Great Lakes, with tea and tobacco.
- English merchantman, the York, constructed at York.
- A vessel named the Missisaga, sailed on Lake Ontario that year.
- English vessels on Lake Ontario included the armed schooner Onondaga, the Lady Dorchester, 87 tons, Mohawk, Caldwell and Buffalo.
- The Sophia was a quick-sailing vessel on Lake Ontario.
- Captain Lee, of Chippewa, owned the only boat on the south side of Lake Erie, a small vessel, name unknown.
- Great Britain surrendered to the United States the posts at Oswego, Lewiston, Schlosser, Miami, Detroit and Mackinaw.
- At Detroit this year there were owned 12 merchant vessels, and several sloops, brigs and schooners of from 50 to 100 tons each.
- British built a fort on the island of St. Joseph, 20 miles above Detroit.
- Schooner Swan first vessel to float the stars and stripes on Lake Erie.
- Erie Packet sailed on Lake Erie.
- Canadian vessel, Governor Simcoe, 87 tons, owned by the Northwest Company, sailed on Lake Ontario.
- Sloop Detroit wrecked near Erie.
- American schooner Wilkinson, 80 tons, built at Detroit.
- The Jemima built at Hanford’s Landing, below Rochester.
- Sloop Weazel sailed on Lake Erie.
- Sloop Washington, 36 tons, launched near Erie.
- The York wrecked in November, on a rock off the Devil’s Nose.
- Genesee and Peggy sailed between Oswego and Niagara.
- Good Intent, 30 tons, built at Mill Creek.