French Voyageurs. Fur Trade. and the. Resource packet. Metroparks Mobile Learning Center

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1 French Voyageurs and the Fur Trade Resource packet Metroparks Mobile Learning Center

2 Thank you for choosing the Huron-Clinton Metroparks Mobile Learning Center for your class field trip! We strive to provide an experience for your students that is enjoyable and educational. To further that experience, we have prepared this post-trip packet for you. Inside you will find: further information on your program s topic, related activities for your students to try, answer keys, and suggested resources. We hope that you find the enclosed materials a beneficial addition to your coursework. Please feel free to print or otherwise share these materials with any of the other educators whose students participated in this program. If you have any questions or feedback, don t hesitate to contact us at or (248) ext Sincerely, The Metroparks Mobile Learning Center Interpretive Staff French Voyageurs and the Fur Trade 2

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4 The following lesson copies are from Section Two of the Frontiers to Factories Curriculum Guide by the Detroit Historical Museum. See Resources page for further information. French Voyageurs and the Fur Trade 4

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14 Researching Forts of the Fur Trade Objective: Students will gain a greater understanding of fur posts in North America by researching their purpose and history. Skills Used: Understand trade as an exchange of goods or services. Apply skills of historical interpretation. Ask questions and seek answers by collecting and analyzing data from historic sources. Describe how North America's population developed. Locate, describe, and explain places in North America. Understand relationships between geographic factors and society. Guided Internet research. Fort Michilimackinac Fort Pontchartrain Fort St. Joseph (there are 2) Fort Frontenac Fort Duquesne Fort de Buade Fort Miami Fort Niagara Procedure: Divide students into groups of three or four. Assign each group a fort to research from the table above. Have students individually read the background info on Forts and Hivernants, then in their groups research the forts and answer the first 6 questions of the Let's Build A Fort, But Where? worksheet. Class presentations and/ or dioramas are possible extension activities. The following activity is derived from Fort Life, Hivernants: the Wintering French Voyageurs and the Fur Trade Voyageurs presented by The Wilderness Classroom.com 14

15 Forts and Hivernants Hivernants (pronounced Ee-ver-naunts) were experienced voyageurs who would spend their winters at a fort in the Interior. These men were a tough breed, and considered themselves above the Montreal-based, seasonal voyageurs. The hivernants were a well-organized, prideful bunch of men, who lived comfortably in the harshest of environments. The hivernants often distinguished themselves from a common voyageur at summer rendezvous gatherings by camping on different sides of the fort than the common engages. Hivernants were usually the men who constructed the forts they would live in. While still under the direct observation of the company clerks and investors, hivernants were granted a certain amount of freedom during the winter. Hivernants carved out an amazing existence in a harsh environment. The average time spent in the Interior for a hivernant was 3-5 years, so they were very used to the unique lifestyle they had to develop by the time they were done with their obligation to the company. Many hivernants had families in the Interior. Native women became wives, and children soon followed. Even after the fur trade was over, many wintering voyageurs stayed in the interior to homestead. They started farms and carved out a magnificent existence in the face of danger and adversity. Many cities, like Winnipeg, Green Bay, and even Chicago owe their establishment to the voyageurs who never returned east. Forts became towns, and towns became cities. The early forts served two purposes. With a fort, a fur trade company could continue to make profits year round, and also not have to send a new batch of voyageurs into the interior each year. For example, it would be virtually impossible to travel to Hudson Bay from Montreal, establish trade relationships with the numerous bands of Cree, and return to Montreal in the same season before the waterways froze. How were forts built? When the voyageurs reached the area at which they planned on wintering over, their first step was to erect a fort. Many times, native chiefs were consulted as to the best site to build. The fort had to be easily defended and also give access to the waterways. Forts were chosen based on location. The fort had to be near a native village (Who builds a store where there are no customers to be found?). The fort must also be near good game fields, so that men could supplement their meager food rations during harsh winters with a deer or moose. The area also had to have abundant trees for fuel and building purposes. Good fishing was always a perk as well. French Voyageurs and the Fur Trade 15

16 Let s Build A Fort, But Where? Read the Forts and Hivernants page. Then research a particular fort to answer the following questions. 1. What is your fort's name? 2. This fort was established in what year? 3. My fort was controlled by this company. 4. The founder of the fort was 5. My fort is/was located 6. Today, my fort is Locate where your fort would have been on the map (below or on the next page). Mark its location. Explain why was the location of your fort important to the fur trade. French Voyageurs and the Fur Trade 16

17 17 Reproduced from: A Toast to the Fur Trade by Wheeler. See Resources page for details.

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19 Packing a Piece from Daniel Williams Harmon s journal: Tuesday [May] 26 [1801] Yesterday our people finished making our furs into packs, of ninety pounds weight each. Two or three of these made a load for a man, to carry across the portages. A Winter s Stay from Alexander Henry s journal: We crossed Beaver Lake on the first day of November [1775]; and the very next morning it was frozen over. Happily we were now at a place abounding with fish; and here, therefore, we resolved on wintering our forty men were divided into three parties The third party was employed in building our house, our fort; and, in this within ten days, we saw ourselves commodiously [comfortably] lodged. French Voyageurs and the Fur Trade 19

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23 paddles outside thwarts French Voyageurs and the Fur Trade 23

24 bow inside Leave the birch bark white Cut from the other side gunwales stern French Voyageurs and the Fur Trade 24

25 FRENCH VOYAGEURS The Fur Trade in Michigan: Resources Some of these books are rare or out of print but are located in many library collections. Dolin, Eric Jay. Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America. New York: W.W. Norton & Co Print. Dunbar, Willis F. and George S. May. Michigan: A History of the Wolverine State. 3 rd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co Print. Gilman, Carolyn. Where Two Worlds Meet: The Great Lakes Fur Trade. St. Paul, Minn.: Minnesota Historical Society Press Print. Henry, Alexander. Attack at Michilimackinac 1763: Alexander Henry's Travels and Adventures in Canada and the Indian Territories Between the Years 1760 and Ed. David Armour. Michigan: Mackinac Island State Park Comm Print. Kent, Timothy J. Birchbark Canoes of the Fur Trade, Volumes I and II. Ossineke, Mich.: Silver Fox Enterprises Print. Morse, Eric. Canoe Routes of the Voyageurs: The Geography and Logistics of the Canadian Fur Trade. St. Paul, Minn.: Minnesota Historical Society Print. Nute, Grace Lee. The Voyageur. St. Paul, Minn.: Minnesota Historical Society Press The Voyageur's Highway Print. Podruchny, Carolyn. Making the Voyageur World: Travelers and Traders in the North American Fur Trade. Nebraska: Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska Print. Skinner, Claiborne A. The Upper Country: French Enterprise in the Colonial Great Lakes (Regional Perspectives on Early America). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press Print. Wheeler, Robert C. A Toast to the Fur Trade: A Picture Essay on Its Material Culture. St. Paul, Minn.: Wheeler Productions Print. Van Kirk, Sylvia. Many Tender Ties: Women in the Fur-Trade Society in Western Canada, Winnipeg: Watson & Dwyer Print. Some activities in packet were borrowed from: Detroit Historical Society. Frontiers to Factories: Detroiters at Work Curriculum Guide For further information or copies, call (313) or visit The Wilderness Classroom.com. Fort Life, Hivernants: the Wintering Voyageurs. French Voyageurs and the Fur Trade 25

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