French Canadian Voyageurs
The report makes little note of the French Canadian voyageurs. They cannot be passed in silence. They were the muscle that enabled the fur companies to operate. Many writers have compiled excellent accounts of these men, especially Grace Lee Nute, The Voyageur, who said that they "have the distinction of being one of the few classes of men in American and Canadian history who have been unique on this continent, not only in their origins as a class, but also in their manner of life, customs, language and dress."
Rather than repeat that which is readily available on the voyageurs, there follow two quotations that came to light during the research. Joseph Hadfield, an Englishman visiting Three Rivers in 1795, wrote in his diary:
Ramsey Crooks, the second-in-command of the American Fur Company wrote John Jacob Astor in 1817, making these comments on the French Canadians:
A popular image of the voyageur is a cheerful, ignorant, young man, brightly dressed, dancing a jig by the light of a campfire, and singing the romantic songs of his way of life. All this may be true. But true too was the endless hard work, the rain, the sweat, the Indian arrows, the sickness, the mosquitos, and the loneliness of the wilderness. They have left a rich heritage; they have also left their bones in a thousand unmarked graves across a continent.
Last Updated: 15-Jul-2009