John Macdonell’s journal: part 3

John Macdonell’s journal: part 3

John Macdonnell’s brigade is working their way upstream since May 25, 1793. It takes them about 3 weeks to reach the Mattawa River, a tributary off the Ottawa River, which they call the Grand River. Eventually they reach the height-of-land, and, with a big...
John Macdonell’s journal: part 2

John Macdonell’s journal: part 2

John Macdonell was born in Scotland in 1768. His family migrated to New York in 1773 and then to Canada. He was 25 years old when he began this first trading venture, in 1793. His diary describes his impressions of voyageur life. In this section, he has been traveling...
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...

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