This Week in History


The Birthday of Louis La Corne

For the week of Monday June 6, 2005

On June 6, 1703, Louis La Corne was born at Fort Frontenac, present-day Kingston, Ontario. He became an officer in the French colonial regular troops, and went on to found the western-most post on the French fur trade route.

Saskatchewan River near Batoche, Saskatchewan.
© Parks Canada / 1965

La Corne’s first combat experience was during the War of the Austrian Succession, from 1740-47.  At Grand Pré, N.S., in February 1747, he was second-in-command of a force that surprised hundreds of New England soldiers in the middle of the night.  When his commander was wounded, La Corne took charge and won the day. For his efforts, Louis La Corne was awarded the Cross of St. Louis, the highest honour to be given to French soldiers stationed in New France.

His military career was also tied in with the fur trade.  He funded independent expeditions to the Western interior, as well as those serving his own interests. These efforts would help to open up the Western interior to trade and settlement.

In 1752, La Corne was appointed the ‘Commandant of the Western Posts.’  He was deployed to Fort Paskoya at Le Pas, Manitoba. There he initiated efforts to strengthen the fort. In 1753, La Corne moved west into present-day Saskatchewan.  On the banks of the Saskatchewan River La Corne established Fort-à-la-Corne, a western outpost of Fort Paskoya.  It was the western-most post of the French fur trade and secured French control of Saskatchewan and the rivers bringing trade from the West.  In 1757, during the Seven Years’ War, the fort was abandoned and La Corne reassigned.

© Parks Canada / Erin Whalen / 2005
In 1760, the French conceded victory to the British and their territories came under British rule, which was confirmed by the Treaty of Paris in 1763. La Corne was encouraged by British officials to return to France. He drowned in the fall of 1761 when the ship he was travelling on aground off of Cape Breton, N.S.

From the 1770s to 1805, the North West Company, the Hudson’s Bay Company, and independent fur traders used Fort-à-la-Corne as a trade centre. It was abandoned in 1805, and re-occupied by the Hudson’s Bay Company from 1846 to 1932. Currently, Fort-à-la-Corne is known for its diamond mining operations.

In 1926, Fort-à-la-Corne was designated a National Historic Site for its role in the fur trade. In 1953 Louis La Corne was designated a National Historic Person for his role in exploration of our Western lands.

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