The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Kingston Herald (Kingston, ON), Sept. 9, 1845

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p.2 On the Chemical Composition of the Water of the St. Lawrence & Ottawa.

[Buffalo Commercial Advertiser]


Father Hennepin's description of a vessel of sixty tons, called "The Griffin," built by the Chevalier De La Salle and his companions, on the straits of Niagara in the Winter and Spring of 1679: -

On the 14th day of January, 1679, we arrived at our cabin at Niagara, to refresh ourselves from the fatigue of our voyage. We had nothing to eat but Indian corn. Fortunately the white fish, of which I have heretofore spoken, were just in season. This delightful fish served to relish our corn. We used the water in which the fish were boiled in place of soup. When it grows cold in the pot, it congeals like veal soup.

On the 20th I heard, from the banks where we were, the voice of the Sieur De La Salle, who had arrived from Fort Frontenac (*now Kingston) in a large vessel. He brought provisions and rigging necessary for the vessel we intended building above the great fall of Niagara, near the entrance into Lake Erie. But by a strange misfortune that vessel was lost through fault of two pilots, who disagreed as to the course.

The vessel was wrecked on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, ten leagues from Niagara. The sailors have named the place "le cap curage," (Mad Cape) The anchors and cables were saved, but the goods and bark canoes were lost. Such adversities would have caused the enterprise to be abandoned by any but those who had formed the noble design of a new discovery.....

On the 22nd we went two leagues above the great falls of Niagara, and built some stocks, on which to erect the vessel we needed for our voyage. We could not have built it in a more convenient place, being near a river which empties into a strait, which is between Lake Erie and the great falls....

On the 26th , the keel of the vessel and other pieces being ready, the Sieur De La Salle sent the master carpenter, named Moyse, to request me to drive the first bolt. But the modesty appropriate to my religious profession induced me to decline the honor. He then promised ten louis d'or for that first bolt to stimulate the master carpenter to advance the work.

....Our vessel was consequently soon in a condition to be launched, which was done, after having been blessed according to our Church of Rome. We were in haste to get it afloat, although not finished, that we might guard it more securely from the threatened fire.

This vessel was named the Griffon, (Le Griffon) in allusion to the arms of the Count de Frontenac, which have two griffons for their supports. For the Sieur De La Salle had often said of this vessel, that he would make the Griffon fly above the crows. We fired three guns, then sung the Te Deum, which was followed by many cries of joy.

....We finally arrived on board our vessel, which we found at anchor a league from the beautiful Lake Erie. Our arrival was welcomed with joy. We found the vessel perfectly equipped with sails, masts, and everything necessary for navigation. We found on board five small cannon, two of which were brass, besides two or three arquebuses. A spread griffin adorned the prow, surmounted by an eagle. There were also all the ordinary ornaments and other fixtures, which usually adorn ships of war.....

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Sept. 9, 1845
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Rick Neilson
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Kingston Herald (Kingston, ON), Sept. 9, 1845