Glossary of French terms

To hear how these French words sound, check out the list below.

Avant the man who sits in the front of a canoe (or bowman ) and studies rocks, rapids and currents in order to select the route

Bon à rien

good for nothing

Bonjour Good bye, Good day

Canot de mâitre a large freight canoe used from Montreal through the Great Lakes to Grand Portage; going westward it carried goods to be traded to Indians and furs on the return voyage

Canot du nord smaller north canoe used on rivers and lakes west and north of Grand Portage by traders and those who were spending the winter in small forts in the wilderness

Capote a coat, made from a blanket

Cariole a sled (or sledge) with a back, so one could sit and ride

Chateau castle, or fortified stone group of buildings

Comment ça va? How goes it?

Commis a clerk or person who keeps records

Comte a noble (like a count)

Coureur des bois a free trader or trapper who was not allied with a company; some were illegal

Croquemitaine an ogre (“the mitten biter”) or bogeyman

Décharge the process of men guiding an unloaded canoe through a rapids by holding ropes, wading beside it

Demi-chargé the process of guiding a half-loaded canoe up or down a rapids which was too dangerous for a fully loaded canoe

En garde Watch out! (Be on guard)

La belle France the beautiful motherland of France

Le Père Lustucru an ogre or bogeyman

Loup-garou a werewolf

Grand Portage the fort on Lake Superior near a nine-mile portage trail

Rubbaboo a thick stew made from pemmican, eaten by voyageurs

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