Jean Nicollet de Belleborne | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Jean Nicollet de Belleborne

Jean Nicollet de Belleborne, interpreter, explorer (born c. 1598 in Cherbourg, France; died 27 Oct 1642 in Sillery, QC).

Like Étienne Brûlé, Jean Nicollet lived among Indigenous people to learn their languages, spending two years on Allumette Island with the Algonquin and later staying with the Nipissing, from 1620 to 1629. He was the first European to explore the American Northwest on a fruitless search for the Mer de l'Ouest. This search took him to Green Bay and the Fox and Illinois rivers. Nicollet finally settled at Trois-Rivières, Quebec, where he continued to act as an interpreter. On a mission to save a Haudenosaunee prisoner, his shallop was overturned and he drowned. His accounts of life among the Nipissing have been passed down through the Jesuit Relations.