The famous Voyageurs Route, which stretched 3,000 miles across the continent from Montreal to Lake Athabasca, was for many years the lifeline of early Canada. When the beaver became scarce in the east, attention was focused on the wilderness west of Lake Superior. It was then that the 300-mile section of the route which passed along the present International Boundary in northern Minnesota became a most important link in this tran-continental trunkline of commerce and exploration.
It is a portion of this section with which this report deals. It comprises an enchanting passageway consisting of a superb system of interconnecting lakes, bogs and streams in an area of land and water possessing outstanding recreation opportunities and high natural and aesthetic qualities--green forests, a variety of wildlife, interesting geology, and great scenic appeal.
This country was made famous by the personality and perseverance of the voyageurs, canoeists extraordinary, who peeled back the map of the continent as they moved back and forth in this wilderness, taking in trade goods and bringing out beaver pelts which were in great demand across the Atlantic.
The fur trade associated with the Voyageurs Route for 150 years before the mid-19th century played an important part in the westward expansion and cultural development of both Canada and America. All this could not have been possible without the services of the voyageurs, the human engines that transported the items of commerce over water and portage. Their personality and exploits clearly have become symbolic of this lake country's past, and the area's history is tied together around the theme of the incomparable voyageur. Even the International Boundary along this stretch, as established by treaty, is based on the main route followed by these giants of the fur trade.
The drama of the voyageurs and even the Indians before them was enacted upon a land patterned by the action of the great continental glaciers. These masses of ice robbed this land of its fertile mantle and gave it to the midlands to the south, but in so doing, they revealed in the lake country a heritage of its geologic past. They exposed the most ancient of the earth's rocks, even the very roots of former mountains that had a billion years previously been peneplained to a rolling upland. The glaciers, too, sculptured the hard surface of this ancient shield of land, carving out the present drainage.
Forests of pine, spruce, balsam and deciduous trees now cover the area. A variety of plantlife carpets the forest floor and delicate flowers bloom in profusion. Numerous animals and birds--moose, beaver, the mysterious loon, to name a few--can be observed here. The area has long been famous as one of the finest fishing areas of the north.
This northern glaciated country--a part of the great Canadian Shield--combined with its scenic appeal, varied animal and plantlife, and its heritage of human history, is of national significance and worthy of preservation. Therefore, the National Park Service recommends the establishment of a "Voyageurs National Park," to include a significant area of land and water along a 40-mile segment of the International Boundary between Namakan Lake and Black Bay of Rainy Lake.
Last Updated: 03-Feb-2009