We welcome you to explore our unique blend of natural beauty, heritage and urban attractions along 57 miles of winding river. Kankakee County is located just 50 miles south of Chicago, off of Interstate 57. Routes 45/52, 50 and 17 also run through the River Valley. O'Hare International Airport is 75 miles north of Kankakee County, and Midway Airport is 50 miles north. The Greater Kankakee airport is also available for personal aircraft landing space.

Createur Conference and Pitch Competition, hosted
KVTA’s Seussical
The Woman Who Would Not Be Silenced
Locavore brings the table to the farm in peaceful rural Kankakee County.

A Weekend in Illinois’s French-Canadian Heritage Corridor

A Weekend in Illinois’s French-Canadian Heritage CorridorAbout 60 miles south of Chicago, the Village of Bourbonnais and the surrounding area along the Kankakee and Iroquois Rivers boasts a French-Canadian heritage, and is featured in Melanie Holmes’s 100 Things To Do in Illinois Before You Die. Fur trader Noel LeVasseur and the brothers, Antoine and Francois Bourbonnais, Sr., entered the Kankakee and Iroquois River Valleys as fur traders for the American Fur Company in the 1820s. In 1837, LeVasseur returned to his native Quebec Province to recruit French-Canadians to settle in northeastern Illinois when the Potawatomi were compelled to move west of the Mississippi River. Beginning in 1846, a considerable number of families arrived. Today a 30-mile section of Interstate 57 from Manteno to Ashkum has been designated the French-Canadian Heritage Corridor in recognition of this French-speaking heritage.

A weekend tour itinerary with a two-night stay in the French-Canadian Heritage Corridor is suggested. Visitors might consider staying overnight in the VRBO historic Joseph Legris House located at 465 S. Main Street in Bourbonnais. Other accommodations are nearby.

A Weekend in Illinois’s French-Canadian Heritage CorridorThis two story Colonial Revival house dates back to 1857. After amassing a small fortune in the gold mines of California, French-Canadian Joseph Legris returned to Bourbonnais Grove, married Cleophil Sylvester, and built a small cabin. The home’s present kitchen is part of the original log constructed dwelling. Legris added rooms to the house as his family grew. Legris and his sons opened two banks in Kankakee, IL. He was a member of the village board, and spent his declining years in this house. Legris was the father of a very well-known family consisting of Monsignor Gerasime Legris—a life time professor of theology at St. Viator College, poet, musician, author, and devout priest; Frederic Legris—president of the village board for 26 years and banker; Harvey Legris— banker; Thomas Legris—banker. The elder Legris was one of the members of the first village board.

The following weekend tour itinerary is suggested.

Saturday morning

Saturday late morning-afternoon

Sunday morning

Sunday afternoon

This weekend tour of Illinois’s French-Canadian Heritage Corridor is endorsed by:

For more information on Illinois’s French-Canadian Heritage Corridor, go to French Canadian Corridor. The above tour may also be done on weekdays, but the visitor must call the sites to determine availability.

This information was written by James Paul and the photographs are his and/or those of the Bourbonnais Grove Historical Society.

Kankakee County is located just 50 miles south of Chicago!

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