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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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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.
The March-April 2018 issue of the Minnesota Conservation “Volunteer” magazine had a surprising article in “Crunch Goes the Cricket” — insects as a potential, sustainable and nutritious food source. They are packed with protein. (If only my starving voyageur characters...
In the 1800s, the rendezvous was celebrated as canoe brigades brought in trade goods from Lachine or trading posts brought in furs. Before they swapped cargoes, it was time to connect with friends and relax with voyageur games.
A “point” blanket (one with short lines of thread stitched into one side, called "points") is what we now call a Hudson's Bay blanket. But: Hudson's Bay Company wasn't the first to introduce the point blanket. Point blankets were commonly used in Europe and by English...