We don’t have a lot of pictures of this fine man, but he’s been my favourite history crush for years and I’ve never needed a pretty face to go along with his kickass story.
Étienne Brûlé was Samuel de Champlain’s interpreter, and is considered to be Canada’s first coureur des bois. With Huron, Brûlé travelled throughout Ontario, seeing sights not seen by any Europeans before: Lake Nipissing, Georgian Bay, French River, Lake Huron, Lake Superior, Lake Erie, Lake Michigan, and countless more.
This man is a great example of the handful of Europeans who weren’t just into Canada for a passage to China. Brûlé devoted his time to learning the Huron language, and when Champlain got nervous about his friendship with the Huron and sent him back to France, he just came back with the English.
Unfortunately, Brûlé was eventually killed by a tribe of Huron, after a miscommunication. He never left any personal records, but left a lasting legacy anyway, of the first runner of the woods, who loved running those woods more than anyone else.
Painting by F.S. Chaneller