The Voyageur

The Voyageur

Grace Lee Nute

Language: English

Pages: 301

ISBN: 0873512138

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The Voyageur is the authoritative account of a unique and colorful group of men whose exploits, songs, and customs comprise an enduring legacy. French Canadians who guided and paddled the canoes of explorers and fur traders, the voyageurs were experts at traversing the treacherous rapids and dangerous open waters of the canoe routes from Quebec and Montreal to the regions bordering the Great Lakes and on to the Mackenzie and Columbia Rivers. During the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, explorers and fur traders relied on the voyageurs to open up the vast reaches of North America to settlement and trade.

A noted scholar of the fur trade, Grace Lee Nute was a curator at the Minnesota Historical Society, a professor of history at Hamline University, and the author of The Voyageur's Highway.

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British commissioners on their trip through the boundary waters in the early twenties, secured from one of his voyageurs the following variation of the old slumber song of Cambrésis, “Une perdriole.”7 It is substantially like Gagnon’s version, and, as in his, each day adds a new gift to the previous donations of the lover. This fact accounts for the addition of a bar to the music of each succeeding stanza and for the change in the second word in each stanza, successive ordinal numbers being used

is probably the standard version:18 AH! SI MON MOINE VOULAIT DANSER Ah! si mon moine voulait danser! Ah! si mon moine voulait danser! Un capuchon je lui donnerais, Un capuchon je lui donnerais. Danse, mon moin’, danse! Tu n’entends pas la danse, Tu n’entends pas mon moulin, lon, la, Tu n’entends pas mon moulin marcher. Ah! si mon moine voulait danser! (bis) Un ceinturon je lui donnerais. (bis) Danse, etc. Ah! si mon moine voulait danser! (bis) Un chapelet je lui donnerais. (bis) Danse, etc. Ah!

concerning the general attitude of westerners during the war. She says: “The news of the French alliance, which reached Pittsburgh on May 26, 1778, heartened the defenders of the frontier, and gave them hope of relief from hostile attacks. The little clusters of French-Canadian settlers scattered throughout the Indian country and the French-Canadian traders and half-breeds in the Indian villages had unbounded influence over the red men, and the news that their French ‘father’ was giving aid and

gateway for an army of settlers on their way to Oregon and California. VIII THE VOYAGEUR AS SETTLER VIII O UR picture of the voyageur would be incomplete without a representation of him in the rôle of a member of a frontier community. Many a voyageur lost his life in his hazardous calling; others remained about wilderness posts till death overtook them; not a few returned to spend the twilight of life in their native hamlets on the great St. Lawrence; but a large proportion of them in the

and descending into valleys. Finally, “before us appeared a stupendous mountain, whose snow-clad summit was lost in the clouds; between it and our immediate course, flowed the river to which we were going.” 16 Here two canoes and seven natives took them down the river. In a few days the mouth of the stream and the sea came into sight. The great feat had been accomplished: North America had been crossed in northern latitudes from coast to coast for the first time. On the return trip more Indian

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