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  Fr. Louis Hennepin       Provincial Leadership     Provincial Staff

Fr. Louis Hennepin (HEHN uh pihn) (
1626?-1705?), was a Belgian missionary and explorer who became famous for his journey to the Mississippi River Valley in North America. He accompanied the French explorer Sieur de La Salle across the Great Lakes and then explored the upper part of theMississippi River.

Fr. Hennepin was born in Ath, in what is now Belgium. He joined the Franciscans, a Roman Catholic order. In
1675, King Louis XIV of France sent him to what is now Canada, where France had established a colony. In 1676, Fr. Hennepin went to Fort Frontenac, on the site of the present city of Kingston, Ontario. There, he founded a mission among Iroquois Indians.

In
1679, Fr. Hennepin set out with La Salle's expedition near Niagara Falls. The explorers crossed Lakes Erie, Huron, and Michigan in the Griffon, the first ship to sail these waters. The expedition in time reached the Illinois River and constructed Fort Crevecoeur (Fort Heartbreak) near present-day Peoria, Illinois. The fort was the first European settlement in what is now Illinois.

Early in
1680, Fr. Hennepin and two associates explored the upper Mississippi River Valley. Sioux Indians captured them and held them for months. During this time, Fr. Hennepin saw and named the Falls of St. Anthony, later the site of Minneapolis, Minn. He returned to Canada in the spring of 1681
and then sailed to France.