In 1651, Pierre-Esprit Radisson arrived in New France with his family. Radisson was only 16 years old. Shortly thereafter, Radisson was captured by a Mohawk hunting party in the Trois-Rivières area and was taken to the vicinity of present-day Scenectady. Iroquois tradition dictated that young people could be 'adopted', thereby being rescued from torture and death, and an Iroquois woman took Radisson into her home, treating him as her own child.
Unknown to Radisson, his half-sister, Marguerite Hayet, married Médard Chouart des Grosseilliers in 1653.
Radisson lived with the Iroquois long enough to learn the language and culture. He claimed later that he was well-treated, but managed to escape to Fort Orange, near present-day Albany where he remained for a short time acting as an interpreter between the Dutch and Iroquois. In 1654, Radisson was in Amsterdam, but returned to Trois-Rivières that spring.
In 1657, Radisson joined an expedition to Onondaga, a Jesuit mission. He remained there to help the Jesuits until 1658 when the mission was threatened with destruction. Radisson organized and executed the evacuation of the all the residents of Onondaga, effectively finding his place in Canadian history.
Radisson's actions were also noted by his brother-in-law, Médard Chouart des Grosseilliers. Radisson was not an explorer, but even at young his age, he bore the scars of a hard life and had knowledge of the Natives that would be invaluable to des Grosseilliers in his future explorations. Des Grosseilliers hired Radisson either in late 1658 or early 1659. Together, Radisson and Grosseilliers would create a history for themselves bordering on the mythological and legendary.
Radisson and des Grosseilliers
Médard Chouart des Grosseilliers
* Pierre-Esprit Radisson *
Expedition to Lake Superior
Hudson Bay Company
Back to France
The Final Chapter