Proposed Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
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From the pages of the past "peals the laughter of a gay-hearted irrepressible race; over night waters floats the plaintive song of canoeman, swelled periodically in the chorus by the voices of his lusty mates; portage path and campfire, foaming rapids and placid fir-fringed lake, shallow winding stream and broad expanse of inland sea,..."--the habitat of the voyageur emerges.

"His canoe has long since vanished from the northern waters; his red cap is seen no more, a bright spot against the blue...his sprightly French conversation, punctuated with inimitable gesture, his exaggerated courtesy, his incurable romanticism, his songs, and his superstitions are gone." (Grace Lee Nute, The Voyageur)

In American and Canadian history this unique breed of men played a significant role. The fur trade was for generations the chief industry of the continent. Without the voyageur the industry could hardly have flourished and attained the importance it assumed.

The fur-trading era came to a tragic close. In its wake followed other eras--logging, mining, farming--each extracting its toll of resources and each writing its history upon the land. Now emerges a new era--a frontier of recreation--one that extracts from the land a sense of its beauty, a joy of being in its presence, of reliving its past.

The voyageur is gone, but there remains an air of his presence in the land and waters he traversed. There is a growing surge of desire to commemorate the memory of his being, the heritage he left, by preserving the setting upon which his drama was enacted. In places the setting is altered, in others it is essentially the same. The opportunity to preserve much of this scene is rapidly passing. To exploit this opportunity is the appeal of this report.

A red woolen cap, a short shirt, the breech cloth of the Indians, thighs left bare above long deer skin leggings and moccasins, a gaudy sash and beaded bag, the inevitable pipe, and in winter a blue capote. So dressed the voyageur as he appeared gliding over the lakes and streams, toiling over portages, cracking a whip over his dog team, fiddling in log forts, and singing whereever he was.

Created in 1849, the Department of the Interior--America's Department of Natural Resources--is concerned with the management, conservation, and development of the Nation's water, wildlife, mineral, forest, and park and recreational resources. It also has major responsibilities for Indian and territorial affairs.

As the Nation's principal conservation agency, the Department works to assure that nonrenewable resources are developed and used wisely, that park and recreational resources are conserved, and that renewable resources make their full contribution to the progress, prosperity, and security of the United States--now and in the future.

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Last Updated: 03-Feb-2009