Saturday, September 20, 2014

coureurs de bois

Remember learning about the coureurs de bois and the fur trade in Canadian History class? Here's an image of their voyageur canoes from the Canadiana website.

Their caption reads:
The Spring Brigade leaves Montreal for the West
Franklin Arbuckle
Reproduced with the permission of the Hudson’s Bay Company From the HBC Corporate Collection

When many fur traders traveled together, it was called a “brigade.” The brigades would leave in the spring and return in the fall, their canoes heavy with furs.

And here's a comment from an anonymous coureur-de-bois quoted by a Hudson's Bay Co. historian:

For 24 years I was a light canoeman. I required but little sleep, but sometimes got less than I required. No portage was too long for me; all portages were alike. My end of the canoe never touched the ground 'til I saw the end of it. Fifty songs a day were nothing to me. I could carry, paddle, walk and sing with any man I ever saw... I pushed on - over rapids, over cascades, over chutes; all were the same to me. No water, no weather ever stopped the paddle or the song... There is no life so happy as a voyageur's life; none so independent; no place where a man enjoys so much variety and freedom as in the Indian country. Huzza, huzza pour le pays sauvage!

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