Voyageur’s Blog

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.

What are high wines anyway?

What are high wines anyway? Are they different from other wines? Why did voyageurs trade them, especially if they caused so many problems? (Kathy, adult; Mary, adult; Sullivan, 9) High wines is a fancy title for cheap, and probably high-proof, alcohol. High wines were...

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What’s that you said??

The writings that have survived from fur traders are full of inventive spellings — like Lac Ouinipique or Ouisconstan. Can you guess where they are? There weren’t many literate people in the fur trade. Most voyageurs signed their contracts with an X. The clerks'...

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My first Girl Scout canoe trip

During my first Girl Scout canoe trip back in 1963, flipping our canoes and making the fewest number of passes across a portage (with only one girl carrying the canoe) was a source of great pride. We squashed loaves of white bread—that was before freeze-dried food—and...

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Proof of my official voyageur status

I’m an official voyageur and I can prove it. Here’s my certificate, awarded in the summer of 1963 while on my first Girl Scout canoe trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Quetico Provincial Park. I recall the trip fondly (tho’ I’ve forgotten the actual...

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Another taste of tourtière

Because my family event required 14 servings, I needed a second tourtière. After reading recipes, I chose one with other ingredients and a different thickening. This one called for onions, spiced with allspice. And potatoes, which really pumped up the filling! The...

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What is André's favorite food?

Tourtière is a French-Canadian meat pie made with ground pork and fragrant spices and often served at holiday times. This is important because tourtière is André's favorite food (André being the main character of “Waters Like the Sky.”) Each family has individualized...

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Nikki Rajala - Author No wonder Nikki Rajala writes about voyageurs—her French-Canadian ancestors paddled birch bark canoes on many fur trade brigades. One great-great wintered for 16 years in fur posts west of Lake Superior and threads of family stories infuse this book. On Girl Scout canoe expeditions as a teen, she explored Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Ontario's Quetico Provincial Park. Nikki loves rendezvous re-enactments, reading fur trade journals, visiting museums, tasting voyageur foods.



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