In 1666, Pere Jacques Marquette, a Jesuit missionary, came to New France to minister to the tribes along the shores of Lake Superior. Marquette became intrigued by stories of the great waterway that flowed south--not west--to the Gulf of Mexico. Gov. Frontenac gave him permission to investigate. Marquette set off in 1673 in a pair of canoes with Louis Joliet and five others to explore all the tributaries of the upper Mississippi River. Marquette's ability to speak local native dialects aided greatly in the success of this four-month, 2,500-mile expedition that opened the upper Midwest to French traders.