Sault Ste Marie History - Indians and Early Exploration

Lake Superior In 1610 Champlain sent out a young man by the name of Brule, he was only seventeen at the time. He was sent to learn all about the native Indians and to explore the interior of the Country. His travels brought him through, what we know today as Sault Ste. Marie. In 1623 Brule gave the area the name "Sault du Gaston", in honour of the brother of the King of France. Champlain marked Sault on the map in 1632 making it one of the first named places in the New World.

The first name given to this area by the native Indians was Bawating or Pawating meaning "fast rushing waters" (rapids). Artifacts dating back to 7,000 B.C. have been found in the Sault area, proving that the Ojibways settled here thousands of years ago. The great Indian battle in 1660 at Iroquois Point had Iroquois slaughtered by their nemesis the Ojibways.

Souvenier Indian Headdress on display Radisson and his brother-in-law Grosseilliers (named "Gooseberry" by the English) form the Hudson Bay Company in 1670. The project was sponsored by King Charles 11 of England because they could receive no funding from France. They become very successful fur traders. In 1671, Jean Talon sends St. Lusson to erect a large cross here in the presence of thousands of Indians from 14 First Nations Peoples, showing that possession of all of the lands have been taken in the name of the King of France. Commemorating this historic occasion is the world's tallest illuminated self supporting Cross erected some three hundred years later, on a hilltop for all to see. In 1669 the Jesuits (missionary priests) re-name the area "Sault Ste. Marie" meaning The Rapids of St. Mary.

As fur trading expanded into the interior of the continent, the Northwest Company constructed the first canal and lock system at Sault Ste. Marie in 1798. The community slowly grew as a major transportation and trading point. This lock system remained operational until 1814 when it was destroyed by American troops during the War of 1812.

More history of Sault Ste. Marie

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