John Macdonell’s journal: part 1

John Macdonell’s journal: part 1

What was a canoe brigade like? Did people who went ever write about it? If voyageurs couldn’t even write their names, how did they keep journals? In 1793 John Macdonell left Lachine to begin serving as a North West Company clerk—and he kept a journal! This post...
Lobsticks — guides for voyageurs, then and now

Lobsticks — guides for voyageurs, then and now

Me: Lobsticks?? Um, what are “lobsticks”? A: Tall spruce or pine trees with lower branches sheared, trees that were “lopped off.” Me: Okay, I get the word. But why did they do that? A: A lobstick helped a fictional voyageur brigade find the right channel to a lake....
Digging into the Voyageurs’ World

Digging into the Voyageurs’ World

When I needed info on pensions for infirm canoemen, where could I find it? Luckily, a book by Carolyn Podruchny had just enough online to answer my question — and more. Her “Making the Voyageur World: Travelers and Traders in the North American Fur Trade” had much to...
Where in the world did trade goods come from?

Where in the world did trade goods come from?

Imagine the array of specialty goods from 1800 — lace handkerchiefs, fragrant tea, violin strings, glass beads, printed calico, nutmegs, lacquered boxes, powdered vermilion, shiny knives and kettles — and feast your senses. Their uniqueness, their usefulness draws...
Were girls ever voyageurs?

Were girls ever voyageurs?

Were girls ever voyageurs? Did girls go on the fur brigades? Amazingly, yes. If you figure in all the Native American women, there are countless thousands whose assistance was invaluable. If you’re talking European immigrants or Caucasians, a bare handful. To...

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