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.

#2: Crane Lake and René Bourassa's Fur Post

Crane Lake, Minnesota, boasts of a historic site — René Bourassa’s Post built in 1736. So the fiberglass statue must be René, dressed in a nicely fringed long buckskin shirt with a red sash. (Yes!) Hanging from the sash is a red and green bag of “possibles,” almost...

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#1 voyageur statue: Big Vic in Ranier

In the town of Ranier, Minnesota, Big Vic holds sway. Big Vic is a 25-foot fiberglass statue and he looks ready to take on the world. He has the typical voyageur build — wide shoulders. His beard is brown, his tuque is red and his buckskins are fringed — the garb of a...

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Larger than life — Minnesota statues of voyageurs

Guess what I finally found — the voyageur statue in Ely, Minnesota, plus the owner and the artist. (I've been trying to find it for a couple of years.) The Midwest's massive monuments to their uniqueness are pure fun. My community has a large largemouth bass, other...

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Ray Mears on brand-new birch bark canoes

 is about the Hudson’s Bay Company’s role in Canada. Mears is an authority on the subject of bushcraft and survival.* He speaks with the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, which commissioned authentic birch bark canoes. Mears paddles a small one...

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1946 film: How Indians Build Canoes

“How Indians Build Canoes” is a color movie from 1946 that shows an Algonquin man and his wife and son building a birch bark canoe using native methods. At the very beginning, a young man wields a long stick—which becomes his ladder to scale a tall birch tree! What...

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1973 film on Bill Hafeman, birch bark canoe-builder

Meant to watch Dan Boessel’s video a second time, it was so interesting. But I accidentally clicked on “Birch Canoe Builder.” This 7-minute film was made in 1973 about Bill Hafeman, who began his canoe- and boat-building venture in the 1920s. He demonstrated the...

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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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