On November 21, 1643, René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle, was born in Rouen, Normandy, the son of a wealthy middle-class haberdasher. From an early age, la Salle wanted to become a Jesuit priest and, at age of 15, was enrolled in the Jesuit noviciate in Rouen. Two years later, in 1660, la Salle took his vows and, about 7 years later, asked to be released from his vows sighting 'moral weaknesses' as his reasons.
Now a free man, la Salle sailed to New France in 1667 where he settled in Ville Marie (present-day Montreal) with his brother, Jean, who was a Suplician priest. Shortly after his arrival in New France, la Salle was granted a seigneurie (estate) on the western shores of Montreal Island. He soon became so obsessed with finding a western route to the Vermilion Sea (Pacific Ocean) and China that his estate was nicknamed 'La Chine', French for 'China'. This nickname evenutally became applied to the near-by rapids.
By 1669, la Salle's obsession grew to the point where nothing mattered to him other than to be the first person to discover the route to Cathay. His obsession would ultimately lead to his downfall.
René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle
* The Early Years *
Incompetence and Failure
The Mississippi River
Deception and Murder