BRÉHANT DE GALINÉE, RENÉ DE, priest, Sulpician, prior of Saint-Maur de Nazar (Saint-Brieuc); b. c. 1645 in the diocese of Rennes; d. 1678 in Europe.
The Bréhant family, “descended in direct line from the ancient chivalric nobility,” had as its motto: Foi de Bréhant vaut mieux qu’argent (“The pledged word of a Bréhant is better than silver”). It had followed St. Louis on his crusades and was descended from a crusader who bore the name of Galilée, which later became Galinée. Under François I, the seigneur Mathurin de Bréhant married the only daughter of the seigneur de Galinée. From this stock was born René de Bréhant de Galinée, who came to New France in 1668.
He was a licentiate in theology from the Sorbonne and had studied mathematics and astronomy. As soon as he arrived in the country, he set about learning Algonkin.
In those days the Sulpicians dreamt of going to evangelize the Potawatomis, a tribe living in the region of the Mississippi. In 1669 M. de Thubières de Levy de Queylus, the superior of the seminary of Montreal, had chosen for this mission François Dollier* de Casson and Michel Barthélemy*. They were about to set out with Robert Cavelier de La Salle, when M. de Queylus, being suspicious of the famous explorer’s loyalty, replaced M. Barthélemy by M. de Galinée, whose knowledge of mathematics and astronomy might be valuable in case of desertion. In actual fact La Salle, who had fallen ill, separated himself from the missionaries at the tip of Lake Ontario.
The missionaries had followed the south shore of Lake Ontario, then had crossed the Niagara River and continued on to the region of the present city of Hamilton. Leaving La Salle and his men there, they continued their journey to the north shore of Lake Erie, where they spent the winter. As a wave had carried off during the night the canoe that contained what was necessary for religious ceremonies, the missionaries decided to return to Ville-Marie [Montreal]. However, so that their voyage would not be useless, they came back by a different route, going by way of the Detroit River, Lake Huron, the mission at Michilimackinac, Georgian Bay, Lake Nipissing, and the Ottawa River.
Back in Ville-Marie, M. de Galinée fell ill. He took advantage of his illness to write an account of his voyage and to draw up a map of the places he had seen. This map, one of the first to be published, came into the hands of the minister, Colbert, by 1670, thanks to Salignac de La Mothe-Fénelon. A replica, corrected and perfected, was delivered to Intendant Talon.
His account, which is extremely interesting, was published under the title Voyage de MM. Dollier et Galinée, the first time in 1875 by the Société historique de Montréal, by Margry in Decouvertes et établissements des Français . . . , and then by James H. Coyne, under the auspices of the Ontario Historical Society. In it one can read that the Sulpician missionaries used to take possession of the territories that they reached by setting up a cross bearing the arms of France. Subsequently Talon enjoined Daumont de Saint-Lusson to do likewise at Sault Ste. Marie.
M. de Galinée returned to France in 1671, with M. de Queylus. He died on 16 Aug. 1678, while on his way to Rome.
René de Bréhant de Galinée, “. . . Exploration of the Great Lakes, 1669–1670 . . . ,” ed. J. H. Coyne, Ont. Hist. Soc. Papers and Records, IV (1903). “Voyage de Cavelier de La Salle avec les sulpiciens Dollier de Casson et Bréhan de Galinée, “dans Découvertes et établissements des Français (Margry), I, 101–66. “. . . Voyage de MM. Dollier et Galinée,” (SHM, Mémoires, VI, 1875). Dollier de Casson, Histoire du Montréal. W. H. Atherton, Montreal, 1535–1914 (3v., Montreal, Vancouver, Chicago, 1914). Faillon, Histoire de la colonie française, III, passim. Olivier Maurault, “Sur les pas des missionnaires-explorateurs,” Revue de l’Université d’Ottawa, I (1931), 316–41.