OTD: Robert de LaSalle’s ship Le Griffon lost at sea

On today’s date in 1679, French explorer Rene-Robert Cavelier (also known as Robert de LaSalle) abandoned his ship Le Griffon, which hasn’t been seen since.

Cavelier then began travelling via canoe along the western shore of Lake Michigan, near present-day Green Bay, Wisc., towards Niagara.

In 2014, two divers announced the discovery of Le Griffon, which they claimed to have found in 2011; however, “the whereabouts of the wreck of famed explorer Lasalle’s ship Le Griffon remains a mystery,” according to a story published by the Manitoulin Expositor this May.

Le Griffon, dubbed the ‘Holy Grail of undiscovered Great Lakes shipwrecks,’ disappeared on its maiden round-trip voyage in the year 1679,” continues the story.

“Many consider it to be the first ship on the Great Lakes.”

The search for Le Griffon was highlighted in a then-recent episode of Expedition Unknown set near Western Manitoulin Island.

“Although we didn’t find the Griffon, it still advanced the search and went in one or two different directions that I didn’t consider in the past. I think it was very well worthwhile,” maritime historian and author Cris Kohl – featured in the episode as an expert and a member of the dive team – told the Manitoulin Expositor.


In 1966, Canada’s Post Office Department (now Canada Post) issued a five-cent blue-green stamp (Scott #446) to commemorate the 300th anniversary of LaSalle’s arrival in Canada.

Designed by Brigdens, a former Toronto graphic arts firm, the stamp was steel line intaglio engraved by the Canadian Bank Note Company in tones of green. It measures 37 millimetres by 25 millimetres (vertical) and had a print run of 25,160,000 stamps.

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