The Long Journey to the Land of the Hurons, Located in America, near the Mer douce to the Far Borders of New France, Called Canada


Gabriel Sagard (circa 1590‒circa 1640) was a Recollet brother who in 1623‒24 lived among the Hurons, France’s main Indian allies at the time. Accompanied by Father Nicolas Viel, Sagard left his monastery in Paris in March 1623 and arrived in Quebec some three months later. In August Sagard, Viel, and one other Recollet missionary, Father Joseph Le Caron, set out for the Huron country with a party of Hurons returning from their annual exchange of furs with the French. Sagard lived among the Hurons until May 1624, when he was recalled to Paris by his superior. In their time among the Hurons, the three Recollets lived in an Indian-style cabin, which they built, and where Sagard divided his time between prayer, studying the language, and visiting Indian families. In 1632 Sagard published an account of his stay among the Hurons, Le grand voyage du pays des Hurons, situé en l'Amerique vers la Mer douce, és derniers confins de la nouvelle France, dite Canada (The long journey to the land of the Hurons, located in America, near the Mer douce to the far borders of New France, called Canada). Although it is farther inland than Lake Ontario or the eastern part of Lake Erie, Lake Huron was the first of the Great Lakes discovered by the French. Not knowing about the other lakes, the French called Huron “La Mer Douce” (the sweet or fresh-water sea), the name used by Sagard. The first six chapters of Le grand voyage du pays des Hurons recount the ocean crossing, the journey from Quebec to Lake Huron, and the author’s return to France. Chapters seven through 22 cover the Huron customs and way of life, offering rich ethnographic detail. The remainder of the work describes the flora and fauna of the country. Sagard produced two other important works about New France, L’histoire du Canada (1636), a four-part history of the missions that earned him the title of first religious historian of Canada, and Dictionnaire de la langue huronne, a collection of French expressions translated into the Huron language.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Denys Moreau, Paris


Title in Original Language

Le grand voyage dv pays des Hvrons, ſitué en l'Amerique vers la Mer douce, és derniers confins de la nouuelle France, dite Canada

Type of Item

Physical Description

2 parts in 1 volume


  1. Jean de la Croix Rioux, “Sagard, Gabriel (christened Théodat),” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, volume 1 (Toronto: University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003− ).

Last updated: November 20, 2015