University of Illinois Extension

Jolliet and Marquette

Jacques (Zhahk) Marquette (Mahrkeht) was born in Laon, France in 1637 and Louis Jolliet was born in 1645 in Quebec, New France which is now in Canada. Marquette was a missionary and Jolliet was a fur trader. They were eager to find the Northwest Passage or a way to sail across the Atlantic Ocean through North America to the Pacific Ocean. At the time, the only known way to get to the Pacific Ocean was to sail round the tip of South America. They were probably the first Europeans to explore the upper Mississippi River and parts of Illinois and Wisconsin.