The French Voyageurs


The voyageurs were hired through the fur company and they could spend 14 to 16 hours daily in their canoe. When the river was inaccessible, the voyageurs had to carry both their canoe and two to three packages of 40 kilograms each. A normal day started at around 3 o’ clock in the morning and ended at 9 o’ clock at night. The voyageur travelled approximately 120 kilometres a day. At the age of 40, the voyageur was looking forward to his well deserved retirement.

Survival for the Voyageurs in the New World depended greatly on the corporation on the Aboriginal inhabitants. The First Nations had long ago learnt to live in harmony with their natural habitat. The Voyageurs were quick to do the same, adopting many of the costumes and equipment of the Aboriginals such as the tent, the birch bark canoe, snowshoes, the toboggan and dog sleigh to transport furs. On the other hand, the Voyageurs were an excellent guide: he knew the trails in the forest as well as on the river. He was also a good translator. The Voyageurs just loved to sing old French Canadian songs while traveling. Eventually, the marriages between the French Voyageurs and the First Nations women led to the beginning of a new race, symbols of the harmony between people: the Métis Nation.