In 2015 the Illinois State Legislature designated a portion of Interstate 57 as the French Canadian Heritage Corridor to honor the contributions by French Canadians in Kankakee and Iroquois counties. Signs at southbound exit 322 near Manteno and northbound exit 293 near Ashkum mark the corridor.
French Canadian settlements such as Bourbonnais, St. George, L'Erable, Papineau, and St. Anne were established along the corridor between the 1820s and 1850s.
History and genealogy resources
Historically significant churches in the corridor
BGHS is now part of the French Heritage Society's French Heritage Corridor project, which includes 7 Midwest states.
Details about this exciting initiative can be found at French Heritage Corridor - French Heritage Society.
Read this short history of the French and French Canadian presence in Kankakee and Iroquois counties by BGHS member Dr. James Paul.
There is so much French history in our community. Here is a suggested weekend mini tour of this rich heritage that is all around us.