The fourth remark concerns a very great and important advantage, which perhaps will hardly be believed. It is that we could go with facility to Florida in a barque, and by very easy navigation. It would only be necessary to make a canal, by cutting through but half a league of prairie, to pass from the foot of the Lake of the Illinois [Lake Michigan] to the river St. Louis [Illinois River].
Here is the route that would be followed: the barque would be built on Lake Erie, which is near Lake Ontario, it would easily pass from Lake Erie to Lake Huron, whence it would enter Lake Illinois [Lake Michigan]. At the end of that lake the canal or excavation of which I have spoken would be made, to gain a passage into the River St. Louis [Illinois River], which falls into the Mississipi. The barque, when there, would easily sail to the Gulf of Mexico. Fort Catarokouy, which Monsieur de Frontenac has had built on lake Ontario, would greatly promote that undertaking; for it would facilitate communication between Quebec and Lake Erie, from which that fort is not very distant. And even, were it not for a waterfall [Niagara Falls] separating Lake Erie from Lake Ontario, a bark built at Catarokouy could go to Florida by the routes that I have just mentioned….
Hear what Sieur Joliet says:
hen they first spoke to us of these lands without trees, I figured to myself a burned up country, where the soil was so wretched that it would produce nothing. But we have seen the reverse, and no better can be found either for wheat, or the vines, or any fruit whatever. The river to which we have given the name of St. Louis [Illinois River], and which has its source not far from the extremity of the Lake of the Illinois [Lake Michigan], seemed to me to offer on its banks very fine lands well suited to receive settlements. The place, by which after leaving the river you enter the lake, is a very convenient bay to hold vessels and protect them from the wind.