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Ask a voyageur a question
Here’s a blog to answer your questions, like what was life like during the 1800s in French Canada? Like who could or couldn’t be a voyageur? How big the canoes were? What trade goods they carried? What different furs were worth? What they used for medicine? I’ll answer these and more in the “A Voyageur’s Life” blog. Click on the button below to ask your question or go to the “Contact” section of this site — I’ll find the answers.
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Official sources mention Ste. Anne as the patroness of many groups but don’t list voyageurs among them. Only fur trade journals tell that story. To get the more complex answer, you’ll have to read between the lines.
Ste. Anne has been called the patroness of voyageurs, and fur trade journals and histories back that up. The canoe brigades of both Peter Pond and John Macdonnell stopped at Ste. Anne Church to ask prayers for a successful voyage.
This French glossary helps readers to remember the words that the fur traders would have used in daily life. And the sound links make doubly handy—readers can listen to the sounds of French-Canadian.
The story of the signature piece of voyageur clothing is recounted in a children’s book, “The Red Sash” by Jean Pendziwol. Just as fun is that she’s a relative, and her son Colin is pictured on the cover of my first novel, “Waters Like the Sky.”
A red sash identified a voyageur — it added style to his otherwise plain clothing and it supported his body carrying 180 pounds of trade goods over a portage. The “arrowed sash” or ceinture fléschée, so named because of its chevron and zigzag designs, is mentioned in fur trade journals.
Before roads, rivers and lakes were the routes for traveling. Voyageurs used waterways they learned from Natives to paddle, portaging when the rapids were too dangerous or the water too shallow. Canoeing from Montreal to the rendezvous took about 6 weeks to accomplish 1,100 miles, and for voyageurs headed to fur posts dotted across the interior, perhaps double that time to reach them.