Topic: I will focus on the forgotten importance of the French Voyageurs and Coureur de Bois in the fur trade and the history of the United States and Canada, as well as the umrv and Dubuque



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Austin Wolff

Archeology project

Dr. Anderson-Bricker

French Voyageur Exhibit

Topic: I will focus on the forgotten importance of the French Voyageurs and Coureur de Bois in the fur trade and the history of the United States and Canada, as well as the UMRV and Dubuque.

Argument: I want the visitors to this exhibit leaving with a better understanding of the French Voyageurs and Coureur de Bois as related to the fur trade. I think the United States overlooks the importance of these people, and I want visitors to realize that they were an integral part of American and Canadian history, especially in the UMRV.

Importance: It is important that the Mississippi River Museum do this exhibit because Americans have almost no knowledge about such an important people and time period. There is also not a lot of information written about his period and people, at least not in English (found a lot of French and Quebec sources)

First Exhibit-Introduction to a Voyageur, Coureur de Bois and a brief history of the Fur trade industry. This section will introduce visitors to the origins of the Voyageurs. The Voyageurs were French who came from Canada to work for the various Fur Trading companies, both in the United States and Canada.1 The fur trading companies would be explained, but this exhibit is based on the voyageurs, not the actual industry itself. The fur trade was an extremely lucrative system of bartering with the Native Americas. They would trade with the Natives for various goods (covered later in the museum). The voyageur was most extensively used as canoe operators, as well as traders, scouts, interpreters, guides, and soldiers.2 Also would explain that the Coureur de Bois were the same thing as Voyageurs, but were illegal (would also explain here that voyageurs needed a license in order to enter the territories for trading). The voyageurs dress and style would be shown in this section.i Would also explain that about 5000 were allowed into the area every year, with most coming from Montreal. Explain that the “area” would have been any territory outside of civilized territory in the United States and Canada, from Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and north through Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. It would include all of Western and Northwest Canada, as well as west of Iowa into the Dakotas, Montana, Washington and Oregon. The story to accompany this section would be by Dr. John Bigsby in while traveling with the Voyageurs in 1814.3

Second Exhibit-Voyageurs as explorers. The main part of this exhibit would be a life size canoe that would have been used by the men, with several Voyageurs inside with clothes from the period, as well as supplies they would have had. The canoes were usually very colorful and well looked after, as this was the only mode for transportation (as the voyageurs would not usually travel by foot). Nute, Grace Lee. The Voyageur. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1955. 1-3. The canoe would be the artifact for this section, and it would be a reproduction as well.ii The section would convince visitors that the Voyageurs were, for the most part, the first men to explore the Midwest, the Northwest, and Western Canada. 4 It would also detail that the Voyageurs were the first men to explore the Canadian arctic areas. On story would be by Alexander Henry, who told a story about his trip, and how the voyageurs were the best men he had ever witnessed, never complaining, being cheerful, singing and with sound knowledge. He also described them as the most export navigators, explores and canoe men in the world.5 Would also include a story by Arthur Mackenzie in “Voyages”. This story tells of a dangerous trip through river rapids, and how the Voyageurs navigated it with relative6 ease and comfort, as if they had done it before.

Third Exhibit-Voyageurs as traders/the fur trade explained further. This section would explain the actual trade between the Voyageurs and the Native Americans. The section would have many artifacts, from real animal pelts (from today) as well as fake ones-Beaver, Wolf , muskrat, fox lynx, bear, otter, and others, as well as actual artifacts that would have been traded with the Native Americans.iii Artifacts would include stoves, pots and pans, muskets and powder, alcohol, knives, blankets, cloth, trinkits, spices, etc. Many of these could be originals, but would probably need to mix in fakes so the cost can be kept down. There would also be a small section here about the companies that the voyageurs worked for, which were French, British, and American.7 The story here would be an description of the trade by Peter Fidler.8 As a side section, and another artifact, the many songs sung by the voyagers would be recorded and played.9

Fourth Exhibit-Voyageurs in winter/fort life. This section would include a reproduction dog sled as well as a replica fort during winter.iv The section would describe life for the voyageurs who had created these forts to camp out during the winter. This section would also describe the different kind of voyageurs; those considered “pork-eaters” and those considered “winterers”. The pork eaters would not stay out during a long exhibition, while a winterer would go on trips that would go through winter. The story for this section would be by an anonymous author (probably Jean Ducharne), found in a collection in the Canadian Archives, Ottawa. It was from Snake River post, in Minnesota.10 The entire diary would be in this section, as it includes how they built a fort, what was eaten, the trade with the Natives during winter, as well as many of the hardships the men faced. Also includes an interesting story about a Native American cannibal who tried to kill two voyageurs. In this section would also be explained the extreme importance of dogs for the voyageurs, used as companions, transportation, and hauling goods.11

Fifth Exhibit-Voyageurs as settlers/soldiers. Will also have this section have a somewhat separate area that explains the importance for the UMRV region, as well as Dubuque. This section would describe the lives how many of the men settled into areas they had explored, or where they had set up forts or portages (would also explain a portage, which was a stopping point for canoes.) The men would marry Native American women most of the time, and settle down, founding many of the first cities in the explored areas, such as Dubuque, Prairie Du Chien (where the name Rouleau I found familiar, as it is my mother’s family name, and she is from Prairie Du Chien), St Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Detroit, ST. Paul and numerous other.12 An artifact for this section, to highlight the importance of the Voyageurs, would be a large map showing every city that was founded by them, as well as the area they explored. It would also include the places they came from-Montreal and the rest of Quebec highlighted. Dubuque would receive a special star, since this is at the museum here. There would also be an explanation for the map. Also included in this section would be an area devoted to the military contributions of the Voyageurs, both in the revolutionary war (fought on the side of the Americans, brought the help of Native Americans with them) where they were an enormous help in the west and north, and the war of 1812 (where they fought on both sides, but had more victories with British. Actually helped defeat the American invasion). I would include a story( report) HBC London Committee letter in 1681 to governor John Nixon at For Albany, detailing the military threat of the voyageurs.13 This letter would come true years later when the voyageurs helped defeat the British. I would have artifacts detailing the weapons and uniforms used by them in the wars.v I would also mention that Bishop Loras, the founder of Loras in 1839, was brought in due to the voyageurs. He was specifically mentioned in a couple resources of mine.14 There was also a letter from Bishop Loras that could be used as an artifact, as it asked for more priests to come and serve in the various French (former voyageur) communities that were growing. It also had a list of known residents, all French names.

Sixth Exhibit-Legacy of the Voyageurs/conclusion.-This section would include the reasons for the downfall of the voyageurs, from increased settlement and civilization to the invention of the steamboat, which made their coveted canoe skills irrelevant.15 It would also explain the different jobs the voyageurs found, such as couriers through the wilderness. Many of them settled down, a few returned to Quebec. The fur trading companies closed. The final part would be an area returning to the accomplishments of the voyageurs, which included mapping many of the various regions, being the first explorers and settlers for this vast region, and founding the major cities of the modern Untied States and Canada (although the voyageurs did not found many permanent settlements west of Quebec)16 This section would try and impress on the visitors the importance of the voyageurs and the French on the United States, especially in the UMRV and Dubuque.

Exhibit Map




Main Artifacts in each area.

Exhibit One-would have life size figurines showing the clothing they wore.

-Exhibit 2 would have a life size Canoe

-Exhibit 3 would have a man explaining the trading goods, dressed as a voyageur.

-Exhibit 4 would have the largest, with a fort large enough to walk into. Life size dog sled.

-Exhibit 5 would show their military weapons, uniforms, and gear. It would also have a large, interactive map on the wall, as well as a section detailing Bishop Loras and his connection to the Voyageur’s.

-Exhibit 6-Would stress the importance of the Voyageurs and the French for their part in creating the United States and Canada.

Bibliography

Primary-

Fur Trade Stories." Fur Trade Stories. Accessed December 11, 2013. http://www.furtradestories.ca/era_1600to1867.html.

No Author. Canadian Archives, Ottawa. 1804-1805.

Alexander Henry’s Adventures and Travels in the years 1760-1776. 306. (Chicago, 1921)

Mackenzie, Voyages. 2.73. 74.

Nute, Grace Lee. The Voyageur. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1955.

Peter Fidler: Standard of Trade. 1795. HBCA - Archives of Manitoba.

Ernast, Gagnon. Chansies popularies du Canada. Quebec. 1894. 179-189.

Secondary-

Women, Kin, and Catholicism: New Perspectives on the Fur Trade Susan Sleeper-Smith Ethnohistory Vol. 47, No. 2 (Spring, 2000) (pp. 423-452) Page Count: 30

France in America: French Voyagers, Émigrés, and Refugees in the Early Republic / La France En Amérique: Voyageurs, émigrés Et Réfugiés Français Dans La Jeune République." France in America: French Voyagers, Émigrés, and Refugees in the Early Republic / La France En Amérique: Voyageurs, émigrés Et Réfugiés Français Dans La Jeune République. Accessed December 12, 2013. http://international.loc.gov/intldl/fiahtml/fiatheme5b.html.

QUEBEC VOYAGEURS:Acadian & French Canadian Ancestral Home." QUEBEC VOYAGEURS:Acadian & French Canadian Ancestral Home. Accessed December 12, 2013. http://www.quebec.acadian-home.org/voyageurs.html.



Nute, Grace Lee. The Voyageur. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1955.

1 Nute, Grace Lee. The Voyageur. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1955. 1-3

2 Nute, Grace Lee. The Voyageur. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1955.4

3 Fur Trade Stories." Fur Trade Stories. Accessed December 11, 2013. http://www.furtradestories.ca/era_1600to1867.html.

4 Nute, Grace Lee. The Voyageur. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1955.23

5 Alexander Henry’s Adventures and Travels in the years 1760-1776. 306. (Chicago, 1921)

6 Mackenzie, Voyages. 2.73. 74.

7 Nute, Grace Lee. The Voyageur. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1955.

8Peter Fidler: Standard of Trade. 1795. HBCA - Archives of Manitoba.

9 Ernast, Gagnon. Chansies popularies du Canada. Quebec. 1894. 179-189.

10 No Author. Canadian Archives, Ottawa. 1804-1805.

11 Nute, Grace Lee. The Voyageur. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1955. 176-78

12 Nute, Grace Lee. The Voyageur. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1955. 182

13 Fur Trade Stories." Fur Trade Stories. Accessed December 11, 2013. http://www.furtradestories.ca/era_1600to1867.html.

14 Nute, Grace Lee. The Voyageur. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1955. 182

15 Nute, Grace Lee. The Voyageur. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1955. 230

16 France in America: French Voyagers, Émigrés, and Refugees in the Early Republic / La France En Amérique: Voyageurs, émigrés Et Réfugiés Français Dans La Jeune République." France in America: French Voyagers, Émigrés, and Refugees in the Early Republic / La France En Amérique: Voyageurs, émigrés Et Réfugiés Français Dans La Jeune République. Accessed December 12, 2013. http://international.loc.gov/intldl/fiahtml/fiatheme5b.html.

i

 The artifact used here would be reproduction clothes from the period, as described in Sheman Halls diary in the archive of the American Board Commissions for foreign missions in Boston. Volume 74, Number 44, entry for September 32, 1832. Example-winter and summer outfit.

ii



iii

 . 134-146. Example-Flintlock musket, copper kettle pot and medicine box as well as a voyageur with trading goods


iv This is from a reproduction group at the “Festival de Voyageur in Winnipeg.

v This photo also came from the festival de Voyageur in Winnipeg, Canada. Also shows a fort reconstruction.



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