National Geographic : 1967 May
The St. Lawrence, River Key to Canada a man wealthy, and a free adventurous life of exploration. The coureurs helped open the West, and the names they scattered across the heart of the United States linger still: Terre Haute, Boise, Coeur d'Alene, and the fanciful Grand Teton. Iron and gunpowder enabled these men to dominate a virgin continent, and Radisson caught all the wonder of it in three words: "We weare Cesars." In 1660, he and his brother-in-law, Medard Chouart, Sieur des Groseilliers, perhaps were the first white men to reach the Mississippi. While his journal is obscure-deliberately so in order to conceal the source of his beaver skins-Radisson apparently journeyed down that river, possibly to the Gulf of Mexico. Once, as he and Groseilliers prepared a flotilla of pelt-laden canoes to take down the St. Lawrence to Quebec, their Huron paddlers refused to set off for fear of an Iroquois am bush. At a solemn council attended by some 800 warriors, Radisson seized a beaver pelt and slapped the face of a chief: "Shall your children learne to be slaves among the Iro quoits for their Fathers' cowardnesse? ... For myne owne part, I will venter choosing to die like a man than live like a beggar." The Hurons brought the furs to Quebec. Veiled by the warp on her loom, a young weaver dem onstrates an 18th-century craft. She creates a tapestry at Brimbale House, a historical monument on Ile d'Or leans, a rural island near Quebec City. Crusty bread, steaming soup, and a blazing fire warm visitors to the Hearth, another landmark on le d'Orleans. During summer months tourists can dine on a few sim ple dishes while visiting this restoration of two country houses, one built in 1680, the other in 1720.