Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Franchère, Gabriel

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FRANCHÈRE, Gabriel, explorer, b. in Montreal, 3 Nov., 1786; d. in St. Paul, Minn., in 1856. He was educated in Montreal, and trained to commercial 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. Franchère 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 travelled 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 Franchère 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 Société 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. He published “Relation d'un voyage à la Côte du Nord-Ouest de l'Amérique septentrionale dans les années 1810-'14” (1820; English translation, edited by J. V. Huntington, New York, 1854). 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.