You are on page 1of 20

Coureur des bois From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search This article includes a list

of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations where appropriate. (December 2008)

Arrival of Radisson in an Indian camp in 1660. The coureurs des bois (French pronunciation: [kuʁœʁ de bwa], runner of the woods) were French woodsmen, who travelled to the interior of Canada to engage the natives in the fur trade without permission from the French authorities. A Coureurs de Bois was an adventurer, expert canoeist, and skilled businessmen. The coureurs de bois, mostly of French descent, operated during the late 17th century and early 18th century in eastern North America, particularly in New France. Later, a limited number of permits were issued to coureurs des bois who became known as voyageurs.

[edit] Background

"Coureur de bois" - A woodcut by Arthur Heming

One of the reasons the Native peoples were essential to the fur trade was because they brought furs from the interior regions to the French trading posts of Quebec, Trois Rivières, and Montreal. The French could also obtain furs by going into the interior region themselves. During times of hostilities, it was safer to have the Native allies bring fur to the French, but high profits could be made by those who were willing to venture into the interior rivers and lakes and bring back beaver pelts themselves. During peaceful times, more and more young men of New France were attracted to the high profits and adventure in the fur trade. These men were entrepreneurs, working for themselves rather than representing a company. These energetic and daring adventurers became expert canoeists and shrewd businessmen. They were known as coureurs de bois or "runners of the woods" During the 17th century, the fur trade was very lucrative for New France. Competition was fierce, and many colonists risked the journey west and north through hostile Iroquois territory from the settlements around Montreal to the pays d'en haut, or "upper country" (the area around the Great Lakes) to trade with Native trappers. These coureurs des bois were not looked upon favourably by Montreal authorities or royal officials. They disapproved of settlers leaving the developing agricultural areas to seek their fortune trading. The French authorities would rather have let the transportation of furs be handled by the natives than have independent unregulated colonial traders, who were bringing in so many furs that the market was oversupplied. The unregulated traffic in furs also undermined Montreal's role as the focal point for the fur trade — where traders would exchange beaver pelts for trade goods such as clothing, muskets and copper pots. Some illicit traders also caused problems by trading alcohol for furs. Some coureurs des bois became famous, including Étienne Brûlé-Valiquette, Louis Jolliet, Médard des Groseilliers, Pierre-Esprit Radisson, Jean Nicolet, Guillaume Couture, Jean-Baptiste Chalifoux and Jacques de Noyon. References: http://firstpeoplesofcanada.com/fp_furtrade/fp_furtrade2.html

"Canoe Manned by Voyageurs Passing a Waterfall" by Frances Anne Hopkins By 1681, the French authorities realized the traders had to be controlled so that the industry might remain profitable. They therefore legitimized and limited the numbers of coureurs des bois by establishing a system that used permits (congés). This legitimization created a "second-generation" coureur des bois: the voyageur, which literally means "traveller". This name change came as a result of a need for the legitimate fur traders to distance themselves from the unlicensed ones. Voyageurs held a permit or were allied with a Montreal merchant who had one. The fur trade was thus controlled by a small number of Montreal merchants. New France also began a policy of expansion in an attempt to dominate the trade. French influence extended west, north and south. Forts and trading posts were built with the help of explorers and traders. Treaties were negotiated with native groups, and fur trading became very profitable and organized. The system became complex, and the voyageurs, many of whom had been independent traders, slowly became hired labourers.

Lawrence River. The majority of these canoe men were French Canadian and/or Métis. 1808". They were usually from Island of Montreal or seigneuries and parishes along or near the St. W. They also helped negotiate trade in native villages. Voyageurs also served as guides for explorers (such as Pierre La Vérendrye). The . voyageurs were the crews hired to man the canoes that carried trade goods and supplies to "rendezvous posts" (example: Grand Portage) where goods and supplies were exchanged for furs. Jefferys The voyageurs were highly valued employees of trading companies. They were instrumental in retrieving furs from all over North-America but were especially important in the rugged Athabasca region of the North-West. such as the North West Company (NWC) and the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC). from a colour drawing by C. Some voyageurs stayed in the back country over the winter and transported the trade goods from the rendezvous posts to farther-away French outposts. The canoes travelled along well-established routes. In the spring they would carry furs from these remote outposts back to the rendezvous posts.Contemporary actor costumed as a voyageur at a Minnesota historic site For the most part. "The Descent of the Fraser River. Many were from France and many were members of Native Aboriginal tribes. These men were known as the hivernants (winterers). They then transported the furs back to Lachine near Montreal.

Microfilm 55. Diverging Identities and Converging Interests: Corporate Competition. 1815-1818. This is considered to be a derogatory term. they had to be able to carry two 90-pound bundles of fur over portages. 3. This competition for experienced labour between the HBC and the NWC created the largest demand for voyageurs in Montreal since before the merger of the XY Company and the NWC. however dismal the prospect is for subsistence. 2007. 5. Governor and Committee General Inward Correspondence. [5] Few could swim. these people I believe. 17 January 1810. Diverging Identities and Converging Interests: Corporate Competition. 1. Voyageurs were expected to work 14 hours per day and paddle at a rate of 55 strokes per minute. Colin Robertson led the first of these HBC expedition to the Athabasca and claimed to have difficulty hiring voyageurs from the Montreal region because of NWC efforts to thwart him. Colin Robertson to London Committee. Portages and routes were often indicated by lob trees. Desertion and Voyageur Agency. it would be 1815 before the HBC took his advice and began hiring substantial numbers of French-Canadian voyageurs for trading expeditions to the Athabasca. 55. Desertion and Voyageur Agency. Colin Robertson sent a message to the HBC London Committee in 1810 suggesting that they begin hiring French Canadian voyageurs of their own. ^ Englebert. . ^ Library jnd Archives Canada (LAC).Athabasca was one of the most profitable fur-trade regions in the colonies because pelts from further North were of superior quality to those trapped in more southerly locations. [2] As this quote shows. much of which consisted of salt pork. more suffered from strangulated hernias than any other injury. Hudson's Bay Company Archives (HBCA). Robert. they are spirited. ^ Englebert. he firmly believed them to be one of the keys to success in the fur trade: I would warmly recommend to your notice the Canadians. never will you have any difficulty in setting a place with them Men. 2.[4] The voyageurs are legendary. they follow their Master wherever he goes. they are easily commanded. Many drowned in rapids or in storms while crossing lakes.[3] Despite this strong endorsement. or trees that had their branches cut off just below the top of the tree. enterprising. The NWC realized how important the voyageurs were to their success and were unwilling to give them up easily. Manitoba History. 4. 2007. 1815-1818. Manitoba History. once the NWC began sending their voyageurs into the Athabasca it became easier for the natives to simply trade with them than to make the long trek to Hudson Bay. Robert. Originally the HBC was content to stay close to their trading posts along the shores of Hudson Bay and have their native trading partners bring the pelts to them. Desertion and Voyageur Agency. 55. 1815-1818. especially in French Canada. The reality of their lives was that of toil. 2. Robert. & extremely fond of the Country. Those who overwintered and ate "off the land" (mainly fish. For example. Diverging Identities and Converging Interests: Corporate Competition. AlO/l. ^ Englebert.[citation needed] They are folk heroes celebrated in folklore and music. pemmican and rubaboo) were called hommes du nord (northern men) or hivernants (winterers). [edit] See also • European colonization of the Americas [edit] References 1. However. 55. Manitoba History. [citation needed] Voyageurs who only paddled between Montreal and Grand Portage were known as mangeurs de lard (pork eaters) because of their diet.[1] As a result. 2007. are the best voyageurs in the world.

Grace Lee. Craig. For the colony claimed by the Marquis de Rays to exist in New Ireland. see De Rays Expedition. • ^ Nute. • Podruchny. Carolyn. the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation. while supporters often cite their methods as not being cruel. Today the importance of fur trade has diminished and is currently centered around fur farms and authorized wildlife hunting. Making the Voyageur World : Travelers and Traders in the North American Fur Trade. Toronto : University of Toronto Press. Toronto: Lester & Orpen Dennys Ltd. but remains controversial due to alleged cruelty and conflicts with the tourism industry. editor. 1987. 1931.Appleton. 2006. New France From Wikipedia. Since the establishment of world market for in the early modern period furs of boreal.The Voyageur. Several animal rights organizations oppose the fur trade.org/wiki/Coureur_des_bois The fur trade is a worldwide industry dealing in the acquisition and sale of animal fur. The use of fur on some items today has been partly substituted by synthetic imitations. ISBN 9780802094285. Vice-royauté de Viceroyalty of New France French colony 1534-1763 Nouvelle-France Flag from 1663 Coat of arms . References: http://en. p 55 Brown. that the animal populations are abundant and their rights to practice a traditional lifestyle should be respected.. New York: D. Historically it had a large impact on the exploration and colonization of Siberia. northern North America and the South Shetland and South Sandwich Islands.wikipedia. polar and cold temperate mammalian animals have been the most valued. search For the short-lived monarchy in South America. see Araucania and Patagonia.5. ISBN 0-88619-147-5. The Illustrated History of Canada .

1715-1763 King Louis XV Legislature Sovereign Council of New France History Royal Control 1663 Articles of Capitulation of 1759 Quebec Articles of Capitulation of 1760 Montreal Treaty of Paris (1763) February 10 (1763) 1763 Currency New France livre Succeeded by Province of Quebec (1763-1791) Nova Scotia Rupert's Land Newfoundland (island) Louisiana (New Spain) History of Canada .1663-1715 King Louis XIV .Capital Quebec Language(s) French Religion Roman Catholicism Government Monarchy King .

Acadia. Hudson Bay. but the French sold it to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. the Hudson Bay and Newfoundland colonies. The Treaty of Utrecht resulted in the relinquishing of French claims to mainland Acadia. Acadia.This article is part of a series Timeline Pre-Columbian 1534–1763 1764–1866 1867–1914 1914–1945 1945–1960 1960–1981 1982–1992 1992–present Topics Constitutional Cultural Economic Former colonies Immigration Military Monarchical Persons of Territorial evolution History of Canada portal New France (French: Nouvelle-France) was the area colonized by France in North America during a period extending from the exploration of the Saint Lawrence River. The territory was then divided in five colonies. which ended the Seven Years War (the French and Indian War). Britain received all lands east of the Mississippi River.[2][3] France ceded the rest of New France to Great Britain and Spain at the Treaty of Hubertusburg. each with its own administration: Canada. by Jacques Cartier in 1534. Newfoundland (Plaisance). including Canada. permanently ending French colonial efforts on the North American mainland. and the establishment of the colony of Île Royale (Cape Breton Island) as the successor to Acadia. At its peak in 1712 (before the Treaty of Utrecht). Spain returned its portion of Louisiana to France in 1800. to the cession of New France to Spain and Britain in 1763. Contents hide] 1 Early exploration history history history territories history history history significance era & . while Spain received the territory to the west – the larger portion of Louisiana. the territory of New France extended from Newfoundland to the Rocky Mountains and from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico.[1] and Louisiana. and parts of Louisiana.

It was sacked by the Spanish led by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés which then established the settlement of St. established in what is now Jacksonville. he headed north along the coast. By the 1580s. Caroline was founded under the leadership of René Goulaine de Laudonnière and Jean Ribault. Augustine on September 20. French merchants soon realized the St. These lands were full of unexploited and valuable natural riches which attracted all of Europe. which were becoming rare in Europe. Verrazzano gave the names Francesca and Nova Gallia to that land between New Spain (Mexico) and English Newfoundland.1. however. Jacques Cartier planted a cross in the Gaspé Peninsula and claimed the land in the name of King Francis I.[4] After exploring the coast of the present-day Carolinas early the following year. especially the beaver. The first European to discover the site of present-day New York.[5] It was the first province of New France. In 1534. Acadia and Canada (New France) were inhabited by indigenous nomadic Algonquin peoples and sedentary Iroquoian peoples. making alliances with First Nations that became important once France began to occupy the land. crossing the Atlantic on a small caravel with 50 men. he named it Nouvelle-Angoulême in honour of the king. Verrazzano’s voyage convinced the king to seek to establish a colony in the newly discovered land.[4] Map of New France made by Samuel de Champlain in 1612. continued to sail to the Atlantic coast and into the St. Verrazzano set sail in Dieppe. to commission an expedition to find a western route to Cathay (China). 1565. and ships were . Francis I. the Italian navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano convinced the king. Lawrence River. However. the former count of Angoulême. initial French attempts at settling the region met with failure.[4] Late that year. French trading companies had been set up. the French crown decided to colonize the territory to secure and expand its influence in America. Eventually. Lawrence region was full of valuable fur-bearing animals. Intended as a haven for Huguenots. Florida.1 Jesuit missions 2 Royal takeover and attempts to settle 3 Military conflicts 4 Fall and British rule 5 Legal Issues of New France 6 Political Divisions 7 See also 8 References 9 Selected bibliography 10 External links [edit] Early exploration Around 1523.[5] French fishing fleets. in 1564. eventually anchoring in the Narrows of New York Bay. Another early French attempt at settlement in North America was Fort Caroline.

contracted to bring back furs. while the English colonies to the south were much more populous and wealthy. the French population numbered only a few hundred. along with two other French companions. a settlement was founded at Île-SaintCroix on Baie François (Bay of Fundy) which was moved to Port-Royal in 1605. adviser to Louis XIII. .[5] In 1608. However. In 1609. In 1630. These men. but was unsuccessful. Champlain was named Governor of New France. Champlain.[6][7][8] Colonization was slow and difficult. the second permanent French settlement in the colony of Canada. The Roman Catholic Church. In 1600. the population had reached 355.[10] He also arranged to have young French men live with the natives. Map of western New France. wished to make New France as significant as the English colonies. where he participated decisively in a battle against the Iroquois. including the Illinois Country.[5] Early attempts at establishing permanent settlements were failures. For the first few decades of the colony's existence. became firmly established in the territory. Lawrence valley to Lake Champlain. Lawrence valley until the 19th century. by Vincenzo Coronelli. Much of what transpired between the natives and their European visitors around that time is not known for lack of historical records. Montagnais and Huron allies. killing two Iroquois chiefs with the first shot of his harquebus. 1688. sponsored by Henry IV. promising land parcels to hundreds of new settlers and to turn Canada into an important mercantile and farming colony. Cardinal Richelieu. [9] Champlain quickly allied himself with the Algonquin and Montagnais peoples in the area. known as coureurs des bois (runners of the woods) (such as Étienne Brûlé). many chose instead to move to the English colonies. creating settlements that were collectively known as Acadia. a trading post was established at Tadoussac. This military engagement against the Iroquois solidified the position of Champlain with New France's Huron and Algonquin allies. for the better part of a century the Iroquois and French clash in a series of attacks and reprisals. Richelieu then forbade non-Roman Catholics from living there. because of harsh weather and diseases. and destroyed in 1613. accompanied by his Algonquin. to learn their language and customs and help the French adapt to life in North America. who were at war with the Iroquois. there were only 103 colonists living in the settlement. In 1627. and the settlers as Acadians. Protestants were required to renounce their faith to establish themselves in New France. Many settlers died early. extended French influence south and west to the Great Lakes and among the Huron tribes who lived there. Richelieu also introduced the seigneurial system. but by 1640. after which settlers moved to other nearby locations. In 1598. a trading post was established on Sable Island. and missionaries such as the Recollets and the Jesuits. bonds vital to New France in order to keep the fur trade alive. Richelieu founded the Company of One Hundred Associates to invest in New France. Sieur de Mons and Samuel de Champlain founded the city of Quebec with 28 men. but only five settlers survived the winter. reestablished in 1610. travelled south from the St. a semi-feudal system of farming that remained a characteristic feature of the St.[5] It was abandoned in 1607. Pierre Dugua.[5] In 1604. off the coast of Acadia.

who frequently attacked Montreal. by canoes. Quebec itself was captured and held by the British until 1632. led by Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve. [edit] Jesuit missions Main article: Jesuit missions in North America Le Grand Voyage du Pays des Hurons.[13] Throughout the 1640s. when stretches of road were built along the river. which after Champlain’s death was the most dominant force in New France. with few roads and canals. when the lakes froze. Lawrence River. Thus people used the waterways. . The transport infrastructure in New France was almost nonexistent. the English colonies to the south began to raid the St. A land transportation system was not developed in the region until the 1830s. The French Catholic Church. and requested that Sieur de Laviolette found another trading post at Trois-Rivières. both the Jesuit mission and the Huron society were almost completely destroyed by Iroquois invasions (see Canadian Martyrs). they sponsored a group of settlers. precursor to present-day Montreal. and the Rideau Canal project was not completed until 1840. Lawrence valley.At the same time. and. however. in 1629. [11] Champlain returned to Canada that year. who founded Ville-Marie. wanted to establish a utopian Christian community in the colony. Jesuit missionaries penetrated the Great Lakes region and converted many of the Huron natives. both the poor and the rich travelled by sleds pulled by dogs or horses. In the winter. which he did in 1634. Lawrence. 1632.[12] In 1642. Gabriel Sagard.The canals would be up to 3 miles long at times and boats were thin and simple. Champlain died in 1635. as the main form of transportation. farther up the St. The missionaries came into conflict with the Iroquois. especially the St. By 1649.

and the various industries established by Talon did not surpass the importance of the fur trade.181). Talon also tried to reform the seigneurial system. To strengthen the colony and make it the centre of France's colonial empire. 1712) was the ancestor of Trudeaus of America like Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Elliott Trudeau. were also sent to New France. forcing the seigneurs to actually reside on their land. Montreal still had only a few dozen settlers and a severely underpopulated New France almost fell completely to hostile Iroquois forces. One such engagé. settler Adam Dollard des Ormeaux led a Canadian and Huron militia against a much larger Iroquois force. many more than there had been only a few decades earlier. who had held the greatest amount of power after the death of Champlain. in an attempt to make more land available to new settlers. none of the Canadians survived. The government of the colony was reformed along the lines of the government of France. In 1660. Louis XIV decided to dispatch more than 700 single women. marriages with the natives were encouraged and indentured servants. Jean Talon. Etienne Truteau (La Rochelle.215 habitants in New France. Eric Mayer THE FUR TRADE The fur trade. and it led to extensive contacts between whites and Indians. In 1663. he sent a French garrison. contributed to the white exploration and opening of the wilderness north of Mexico. In 1665.034) and women (1. In the 1650s. NATIVE AMERICAN HISTORY Dr. . but they succeeded in turning back the Iroquois invasion. the Carignan-Salières Regiment. Jean Talon was sent by Minister of the Marine Jean-Baptiste Colbert to New France as the first Intendant. and limiting the size of the seigneuries.[14] But the census showed a great difference in the number of men (2.[edit] Royal takeover and attempts to settle Great Seal of King Louis XIV used in New France after the colony was reformed as a province of France in 1663.1641 Montréal. New France finally became more secure when Louis XIV made it a royal province. Very few settlers arrived. to Quebec. known as engagés. soldiers.[14] It showed a population of 3. fur traders and settlers who had come to New France were men. in the winter of 16651666. aged between 15 and 30 (known as les filles du roi) to New France. At the same time. more than any other activity. with the Governor General and Intendant subordinate to the Minister of the Marine in France. The 1666 census of New France was conducted by France's intendant. In 1665. These reforms limited the power of the Bishop of Quebec. These schemes were ultimately unsuccessful.[14] This was because most of the explorers.

Whereas mining and the raising of livestock had a greater economic bearing on the development of Spanish colonies. and farming dominated the economy and land use of the English colonies. and after the posts came the settlers. Competition among the European nations and among the Indian tribes for the fur trade was a major factor in many of the intertribal conflicts and colonial wars. the fur trade had another long-term impact in the Indians by bringing whites onto their lands. . commerce in furs determined French expansion. Over the course of these centuries. as skilled hunters and suppliers of pelts. both practical. the Netherlands. the Indians received European products. especially beaver pelts for hatmaking.S.All the colonial powers were involved in the mass commercial exploitation of animal pelts and skinsFrance. First. Lawrence River. and decorative. The world fur market remained vital after colonial times into the 19 th century. and it played a significant part in the opening of both U. The Indians also received firearms and liquor. In exchange for their goods. Russia. (See "The Spread of European Diseases. And finally. the 17th through the 19th. The French and Indian fur trade began with Jacques Cartier in 1534 along the St. and to a lesser extent Spainto fulfill the furious demand for furs in Europe. the French most thoroughly exploited the fur trade. and hunters came the trading and military posts. A second and devastating effect from trade with whites was the outbreak of European diseases among the Indian population. In early colonial times. trappers. His original intent had been to find the Northwest Passage to the Orient. such as iron tools and utensils. the Indians were sought after as trading partners and were exposed to white culture. England. both of which had an enormous impact on Indian lifeways." ) A third effect was the long-term ecological disruption of the food chain by the depletion of fur-bearing mammals. such as bright-colored cloth and beads. After the white traders. impact on the Indians as a result of the fur trade came about in various ways. and Canadian wilderness to white settlement. And reaction to white traders on Indian lands spawned considerable native resistance.

Many more would follow. the Hurons. unlicensed entrepreneurs who defied regulations. From the years 1616 to 1649. Montagnais. This wilderness profession would lead to another breed of Frenchmen-the coureurs de bois independent. and Montreal all became thriving centers for commerce. Champlain explored the northern woods and established trade agreements with various tribes to deliver their pelts to French trading posts. to trade for European wares. and kettles.but he found instead an untapped source of furs among the Indians who were eager to trade for European goods. (See "The Beaver Wars" and "Rebellions against the Dutch. • . which they then carried to the French in Quebec city or Montreal. linking them up with other tribes as well. In their flotillas of canoes now laden with such products as textiles. Each of the three main trading partners had its own river and portage route for travel by canoe. however. they then completed the trade circle. Acting as middlemen." ) In the meantime. many Frenchmen. who were at the time trading partners of the Dutch. in conjunction with the Algonquian Ottawas and Nipissings. Over the next years. Lawrence. Nova Scotia). Port Royal in Acadia (now Annapolis Royal. having the express purpose of trading with the Indians for furs. were all involved in the French fur trade. and Crees. plus a yearly schedule. paints. the Hurons traded agricultural products to other tribes for pelts. returning to the other tribes to trade a percentage of their take for still more furs. such as the Algonquian-speaking Micmacs. Yet the Iroquoian-speaking Hurons. beads. developed a trade empire among the Indians from the Great Lakes to the Hudson Bay to the St. such as the Iroquoian Tobaccos and Neutrals. some of them sponsored by Champlain and others by the Catholic Church. and dealt in furs. Samuel de Champlain arrived in New France in 1603. This complex trade relationship lasted until the mid-17th century. ending with the military and economic expansion from the south by the Iroqois League of Five Nations. many of them living among the Indians. living further to the west. Quebec City. The men who earned a livelihood by paddling large canoes into the wilderness Indian-style in quest of furs came to be known as voyageurs. had already ventured along lakes and rivers. Abenakis. Based on the results of Cartier’s expeditions. knives. Naskapis. hatchets. Eastern tribes. deeper into the wilderness in search of new sources for furs. became the foremost suppliers.

Looking for new Indian markets. charted in 1627 in order to settle the colony as well as develop commerce." ) In New France the lure of fur profits and fluctuations in the market proved a more powerful force than official policy and planning. and other officials were more concerned with matters of commerce and their own investments than other areas of colonial growth. and Red River systems of the prairies and plains. . And even after the company’s charter was revoked in 1663 and New France became a Crown colony. the French explored Missouri. with whom they conducted much of their business. (See "Canadian Indian Wars. French traders expanded their markets in the southern part of the Louisiana Territory. It was only when trade was choked off by the Beaver Wars that the habitants of New France turned to farming to any significant degree. New Orleans. known to the French as Louisiana. the Indian men would protect the explorers and hunt for them. The Taovayas and coureurs de bois established the Twin Villages of San Bernardo and San Teodoro on the upper Red River just east of the Comanches. founded in 1718. became a bustling center of commerce. Nevertheless. New France extended its territory from the Great Lakes to the trans-Mississippi area. royal governors. The Company of New France (or Company of One Hundred Associates). also had its hand in la traite. through its Jesuit missionaries. and the women would process the furs and skins. intendants. Under royal management. And during the 18th century. despite fluctuations and interruptions. And the Catholic Church. Platte. who acted as middlemen for them. from settlements along the Gulf Coast northwestward along the Mississippi and Red rivers. as they had done with the Hurons the century before. Meanwhile. the French established a special trade relationship with the Taovayas (the French name for both Wichita and Caddo Indians). largely ignored the former in favor of the lucrative fur trade. They also commonly took the majority of a tribe from the Great Lakes country with them across the Mississippi. the French fur trade continued to expand into new regions.Both voyageurs and coureurs de bois would propagate still another wilderness breed-the Metis-mixedbloods of predominantly French and Cree descent. It took a fur market crash in 1696 to again effect another dramatic increase in farming among the settlers of New France. inspite of the efforts of wealthy merchants in France to keep the bulk of the profits on their side of the Atlantic.

" ) The Hudson’s Bay Company also encountered fierce competition from the North West Company (charted in 1784 by Scotsmen). Yet France continued to play a dominant role in the fur trade until England’s ultimate victory in the French and Indian Wars and the Treaty of Paris in 1763. on Kodiak Island. Both the coureurs de bois and Taovayas remained active even after 1763 and the takeover of Louisiana by the Spanish. At this time. and the subsequent charter of the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1670. the Russian fur traders who had extended their domain into Alaska out of Siberia. with some successes. and Pomo Resistance against the Russians. the Hudson’s Bay Company’s chief backer and first governor. rather than sending traders inland to collect furs. after Prince Rupert. The French also claimed the Hudson Bay and sent out various military expeditions against British posts. the Russians had founded their first permanent North American settlement. Tlingit. (For a more detailed discussion of the Russian fur trade. see "The Aleut. they also maintained a settlement in California. which had inherited a trade relationship with the Iroquois from the Dutch in 1664 and whose ships now plied the Hudson River. the English proved themselves competitive with tribes who had previously traded only with the French. . as its northern holdings were called. but without success. sought to develop trade especially in the Hudson Bay region. During the period of conflict between France and England. Claim to the area was based on the voyage of Henry Hudson in 1610. Vitus Bering’s voyage of discovery in 1741 precipitated a period of intense activity by the promyshlenniki. Russia also began developing its fur trade.The Spanish. And because English goods were generally cheaper and of better quality than French goods. that the vast fur-rich area came to be exploited. Yet restrictive trade practices by the Spanish finally did dry up the Taovaya source of wealth. as a year-round center of trading. tried to oust the French from the area on several occasions. but it wasn’t until the overland expedition of Pierre Radisson and Sieur des Groseilliers in 1668 and 1669. England did not know the extent of Rupert’s Land. until 1713 and the Treaty of Utrecht. resenting the French presence and their sale of firearms to the Comanches. which now dominated the Montreal-based fur trade. By 1784. when they abandoned their efforts. The English. established trading posts for barter with the Indians at the mouths of the large rivers that drained the Canadian Shield into the bay. England. Ships could come and go in the summertime when the northern waters were free of ice. By 1812.

William Henry Ashley. During these same years. fur business also began to expand in the early 19th century. became a powerful force and amassed a fortune in the fur trade. especially to the Rocky Mountains. Both enterprises sponsored numerous expeditions into the western wilderness. with various subsidiaries to follow-such as the Pacific Fur Company. Oregon. Among other regulations. especially among the tribes of the Canadian West. (See "Indian Trails and White Inroads. A "Nor’Wester." Alexander Mackenzie. called the "factory systems. founded the St. of all the whites to settle North America. participating in and backing various expeditions. The two companies merged in 1821 under the name of the older company.S. the American Congress passed four Trade and Intercourse Acts pertaining to Indian affairs and commerce. government also played a part in the fur trade.S. the American Congress enacted a law excluding British traders from the United States. became the first white man to cross the North American continent north of Mexico. the Mountain Men benefited from their extensive contacts with Indians. a follow-up Trade and Intercourse Act codified the four earlier ones. . and traders. And in terms of life-style. In 1802. In 1808. In 1816. an Office of Indian Trade was created within the War Department to administer the federal trading houses. the U. through a system of government trading houses. and the South West Company. the backwoods seekers of furs had the most in common with the Indians. By the time he died in 1848. operating near the Great Lakes. originally out of New Orleans. John Jacob Astor founded the American Fur Company. learning wilderness survival skills." ) Like the voyageurs and the coureurs de bois of French Canada. Active in the 1820s and 1830s as hunters. And in 1806. Another American entrepreneur." During the years from 1790 to 1799. trappers. Louis Missouri Fur Company. the acts provided for the appointment of Indian agents and licensing of federal traders who could barter with the Indians for furs.Their rivalry spurred a period of extensive exploration in which new Indian contacts were established. they traveled the Indian trails and passes of the West. The U. The next year. John Jacob Astor was the richest man in America. with an important trading post at Astoria. Many of the men who worked for and traded with him came to be known as the Mountain Men. the Chouteau family.

of all the whites entering the domain of the Indians. They certainly were stalwart. at which time provisions were made for the licensing of independent traders. Yet other factors besides changes in fashion account for the end of the centuries-long fur boom-namely the depletion of fur-bearing animals and the advance of farming settlements. the Hudson’s Bay Company sold off its vast territorial holdings to the Canadian government. The international fur market experienced a decline during the 1840s. especially alcohol. and. who sought to conquer. As for the Mountain Men and other counterparts. courageous. many of them stayed active long after the fur decline.com/lectures/FURTRADE. some became the nemeses of the very people from whom they had learned so much-they were among the only whites skilled enough to track the warring Indians. In 1867. using whatever means they could. in 1869. certain traders might nevertheless be called the harbingers of an insensitive and exploitative white culture.Charles William Jefferies The Coureur des Bois. plunder. as scouts and guides for the army or as settlers. or Runners of the Woods. perhaps the most appreciative and respectful of Indian ways. were a group of individuals who traded furs with the First Nations in New France in the 17th Century. Although there is little comparison between the depredations these opportunistic individuals imposed on the Indians and those imposed by the the majority of Spanish conquistadors. to cheat them.The "factory system" was abolished in 1822. partly because the beaver hat went out of style. Russia gave up its North American venture and sold Alaska to the United States. and enslave the Indian population. and. . for example. References: http://www. who were better able to meet the booming demand for furs. But there were also those traders who held the Indians in disdain. Because of the rugged Indian-like life-style of the fur traders-from the French voyageurs and coureurs de bois to the Hudson’s Bay Company explorers to the American Mountain Men-they. have come to be romanticized. like the American cowboy.html The Voyageurs .emayzine. and individualistic.

.

the Hudson Bay Company was content to allow the First Nations to bring their pelts to the Hudson Bay Company’s string of trading posts along the shores of Hudson Bay.” or Winterers. The result was that the Voyageurs started as independent traders. the Canadian fur trade was a very lucrative industry in New France. as well as during the French and Indian War. they also negotiated treaties with the First Nations for access to their furs and the right to trap on their land. The Voyageurs who travelled this route exclusively were derisively called. The Voyageurs and the Hudson Bay Company By the early 19th Century. . The result was that the fur trade was controlled by a small number of Montreal merchants who held the permits for the Voyageurs. the royal authorities in Montreal built a series of forts and trading posts to protect the trade routes.” or Pork Eaters. where the North West Company and the Hudson Bay Company were engaged in trapping the best beaver pelts on the continent.” which meant Men of the North. New France began to expand.During the 17th Century. the North West Company began to send Voyageurs into the area to hunt and trap. The Voyageurs also served as scouts and guides for explorers. in an attempt to dominate the fur trade. They legalized a limited number of Coureur des Bois by establishing a system of permits. Competition was stiff and many settlers were willing to undertake the dangerous journey through Iroquois territory to trade with New France’s First Nation allies. in reference to their diet of salt pork. Lawrence River. The colonial government preferred to have the First Nations bring the furs to trading posts where they could exchange them for trade goods and other supplies. because they stayed in the back country during the winter and transported furs and other supplies to more distant forts and trading posts. near Montreal. In response they sought to control them instead. The First Nations preferred this. The term “Voyageur” referred mainly to the men who manned the canoes that carried trade goods. had come to rely on the Voyageurs as highly valued employees. The majority of the Voyageurs were French-Canadian or Metis and came from the area surrounding Montreal and the banks of the St. However. but gradually became hired labourers. At first. however. which they called Voyageurs. now called Quebec. Of particular importance was the Athabasca Region. The Origins of the Voyageurs The Coureur des Bois were frowned upon by the royal authorities in Montreal because they did not want the settlers to leave the developing agricultural areas to make their fortunes as trappers and fur traders. because it allowed them to trade their pelts more easily. “Mangeurs du Lard. following well known routes that had evolved from native hunting trails. At the same time. Some Voyageurs became known as “Hivernants. By 1681. and “Homme du Nord. the French colonial authorities found themselves unable to stop the Coureur des Bois. The Voyageurs became instrumental in retrieving furs from all over North America. or Travellers. In conjunction with this. The Voyageurs travelled all over North America to Lachine. Around the same time. due to their extensive knowledge of the back country and their reputation as excellent woodsmen. the trading companies operating in New France. furs and other supplies. In doing so the royal authorities created a second generation of Coureur des Bois.

Robertson experienced delays setting out from Montreal because he was finding it difficult to hire enough Voyageurs for the journey. are the best voyageurs in the world. Manitoba History. If they weren’t ruptured by their loads. a former employee of the North West Company and a veteran of the Canadian fur trade. This was because the North West Company was actively trying to stop the expedition. Robert. and. in which he urged them to hire Voyageurs of their own. They often worked for 14 hours a day and were expected to paddle at a rate of 55 strokes per minute. Library jnd Archives Canada (LAC). 1815-1818. where the directors of the Hudson Bay Company hoped to re-establish the company’s presence. Making the Voyageur World : Travelers and Traders in the North American Fur Trade. 2007. Manitoba History. Desertion and Voyageur Agency. 2006. Desertion and Voyageur Agency. Carolyn. 2007. Diverging Identities and Converging Interests: Corporate Competition.Read on • • • The History of New France A History of What Life in New France Was Like Where was New France? In 1810. They carried up to 180 pounds of pelts on their backs. References: http://www. 55. they were often drowned in rapids or storms. 1.. The Illustrated History of Canada. Englebert. these people I believe. wrote a letter to the directors of the Hudson Bay Company. The reality was that the Voyageur’s life was filled with back-breaking labour. Few Voyageurs left written accounts of themselves. The Legacy of the Voyageurs Today the Voyageurs are the stuff of legends. Hudson's Bay Company Brown.com/content/the-voyageurs-of-new-france-a160155 .suite101. 1815-1818. few could swim. Podruchny. 55. 1987. However. “I would warmly recommend to your notice the Canadians. Toronto : University of Toronto Press. editor. Craig.” However. but they played a critical role in opening Canada for settlement. Toronto: Lester & Orpen Dennys Ltd. particularly in Quebec where they are still celebrated in folklore and songs. Robert. ironically. Robertson was placed in charge of the expedition to the Athabasca Region. 2. Diverging Identities and Converging Interests: Corporate Competition. Colin Robertson. it would not be until 1815 that the Hudson Bay Company would begin hiring large numbers of Voyageurs. Sources: Englebert.