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Alberta's Francophone Heritage
Background, People, Culture, Heritage Community Foundation, Albertasource and Alberta Lottery Fund

 

Francophone Edukit

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Voyageurs
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New France, Fur
Trade and Exploration

The French Fur Trade

The Hudson's Bay Company

Voyageurs

La Vérendrye and Western Exploration

The Métis

Events Abroad

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Hudson's Bay Company VoyageursEvery year, the French fur trading companies hired a great number of men from the Saint Lawrence valley on contract, who initially worked as canoeists and packers for each trip done during the summer. The brigades left Montreal as soon as the ice broke up and returned in the autumn, bringing trade goods out with them and returning with furs, which is how the term "voyageur" or tripper came about.

It was the responsibility of those who manned the outposts to collect the furs, but many hands were needed to keep these posts running: woodcutters, carpenters, hunters, fishermen, horse keeps, as well as trappers and fur traders. As these individuals spent the winter on site, they were known as "hivernants" or winterers, terms which were often specified in their contracts. It must also be remembered that not all fur trading companies were large. Companies often consisted of a few associates. Three men were sufficient to man a small canoe loaded with trade goods provided by a supplier in Montreal, and undertake a trading expedition. As such, in the late 17th and early 18th century, many enterprising associates did just that.  

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