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...
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...
Roadkill can be beautiful?

Roadkill can be beautiful?

Roadkill can become a beautiful, valued pelt. Yes, it can. And here’s how one incident played out: After hitting a small beaver on the road with his car, my dad had it tanned as a “made beaver.” FYI: From the mid-1600s for a couple hundred years, a “made beaver”...
Dog sleds—voyageurs’ winter mode of travel

Dog sleds—voyageurs’ winter mode of travel

The John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon just ended. The Iditarod is coming soon. And  I’m hooked. Those pictures of dogsleds careening around sharp snowy turns get me itching to try it. But jaw-dropping scared as well. How in the world do they handle those dogs?...

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