Lorraine Boissoneault, The Last Voyageurs: Retracing La Salle's Journey Across America: Sixteen Teenagers on an Adventure of a Lifetime | Newberry

Lorraine Boissoneault, The Last Voyageurs: Retracing La Salle's Journey Across America: Sixteen Teenagers on an Adventure of a Lifetime

A Meet the Author Program
Thursday, June 2, 2016

6 pm

Ruggles Hall

Free and open to the public; no registration required.
Open to the Public
Meet the Author

René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, the great seventeenth-century explorer, features prominently in the Newberry’s collection. Maps, manuscripts, accounts of his discoveries, and official narratives of his expeditions all speak to his historical legacy. A legacy that inspired 22 young men to set out, in 1976, to re-create the French explorer’s voyage down the entire length of the Mississippi River, abandoning their modern identities in order to live like the voyageurs of the 1600s. Author Lorraine Boissoneault recounts this expedition in her new book The Last Voyageurs. At this Newberry Meet the Author program, join Boissoneault and several members of this 1976 expedition, as they discuss the book, and the legendary adventures that inspired it.

More about The Last Voyageurs

Reid Lewis never wanted to be an ordinary French teacher. With the approach of the American Bicentennial, he decided to put his knowledge of French language and history to use in recreating the voyage of René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, the first European to travel from Montreal to the end of the Mississippi River. Lewis’ crew of modern voyageurs was comprised of 16 high school students and 6 teachers who learned to sew their own 17th-century clothing, paddle handmade canoes, and construct black powder rifles.

Together they set off on an eight-month, 3,300-mile expedition across the major waterways of North America. They fought strong currents on the St. Lawrence, paddled through storms on the Great Lakes, and walked over 500 miles across the frozen Midwest during one of the coldest winters of the 20th century, all while putting on performances about the history of French explorers for communities along their route. The crew had to overcome disagreements, a crisis of leadership, and near-death experiences before coming to the end of their journey. The Last Voyageurs tells the story of this American odyssey, where a group of young men discovered themselves by pretending to be French explorers.

More about Lorraine Boissoneault

Lorraine Boissoneault is a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where she studied narrative nonfiction. She is an editor at the Weather Channel and lives in Chicago.

Cost and Registration Information 

Free and open to the public; no registration required.