Making the Voyageur World: Travelers and Traders in the North American Fur Trade

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U of Nebraska Press, 2006 - History - 414 pages
French Canadian workers who paddled canoes, transported goods, and staffed the interior posts of the northern North American fur trade became popularly known as voyageurs. Scholars and public historians alike have cast them in the romantic role of rugged and merry heroes who paved the way for European civilization in the wild Northwest. Carolyn Podruchny looks beyond the stereotypes and reveals the contours of voyageurs? lives, world views, and values.

Making the Voyageur World shows that the voyageurs created distinct identities shaped by their French-Canadian peasant roots, the Aboriginal peoples they met in the Northwest, and the nature of their employment as indentured servants in diverse environments. Voyageurs? identities were also shaped by their constant travels and by their own masculine ideals that emphasized strength, endurance, and daring. Although voyageurs left few conventional traces of their own voices in the documentary record, an astonishing amount of information can be found in descriptions of them by their masters, explorers, and other travelers. By examining their lives in conjunction with the metaphor of the voyage, Podruchny not only reveals the everyday lives of her subjects?what they ate, their cosmology and rituals of celebration, their families, and, above all, their work?but also underscores their impact on the social and cultural landscape of North America.

 

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Contents

Sons of the Farm the Trade and the Wilderness
1
Family and Livelihood in French Canada and Beyond
18
Voyageur Cosmology
52
4 It Is the Paddle That Brings Us Voyageurs Working in Canoes
86
Masters Clerks and Servants
134
Parties Tricks and Friendships
165
Life at Interior Fur Trade Posts
201
8 Tender Ties Fluid Monogamy and Trading Sex
247
Going Home and Going Free
287
Carrying the World
302
Notes
309
Bibliography
371
Index
399
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About the author (2006)

Carolyn Podruchny is an assistant professor of history at York University in Toronto and the secretary-treasurer of the American Society for Ethnohistory. She coedited the volume De-Centering the Renaissance: Canada and Europe in Multidisciplinary Perspective, 1500?1700.

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