Gabriel Franchere

FRANCHERE, Gabriel, explorer, born in Montreal, 3 November 1786; died in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1856. He was educated in Montreal, and trained to commercia! pursuits by his father. In 1810 he bound himself for five years to the Pacific fur company, formed by John Jacob Astor, and was a member of the expedition sent to develop the fur trade beyond the Rocky Mountains. He returned to New York with several of his companions in less than two months, and in September 1810, sailed on the "Tonquin" for the Columbia River, where the expedition arrived in March 1811, after suffering many hardships. Franchere was one of the witnesses to the transfer of Astoria to the Northwest company, after the breaking out of hostilities between the United States and England, and remained for some time in the service of that company, but finally resolved to return to Canada. In order to reach Montreal he traveled a distance of 5,000 miles by the overland route in canoes or on foot. Franchere removed to Sault Ste. Marie in 1834, and engaged in the fur trade. He afterward established the commercial house of Franchere and Company in New York City. A large number of French Canadians having emigrated to the United States after the rebellion of 1837, he established the Societe St. Jean Baptiste with the object of preserving the religion, language, and nationality of his compatriots. He was the last survivor of the Astor expedition.  This was the first history of the Astor expeditions, and the first work containing detailed accounts of the interior of Oregon. It forms the basis of Washington Irving's "Astoria," and supplied Thomas H. Benton with materials for his great speech on the Oregon question.