Le Griffon (1679)

Sketch of Le Griffon from Father Louis Hennepin's "Nouvelle Decouverte" (Utrecht, 1697). Public domain image.

Ship Class
Ship Type
Laid Down

While attempting to find the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the East Indies, René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle needed a ship, and the result was Le Griffon. Built in the Niagara River, she was launched in 1679, armed with seven cannons. Exact dimensions and displacement are unknown, but she is believed to have displaced 45 tons burthen, and been rigged as a barque. Le Griffon was towed to Lake Erie, and became the first sailing ship on the Great Lakes on 7 August, 1679. Le Griffon transported de la Salle and his men across Lakes Erie, Huron, and Michigan, before heading for home with a load of furs and a reduced crew on 18 September. She disappeared en route, and none of the many wrecks found on the Great Lakes have been able to be confirmed as the missing ship.