The Voyageurs

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by Arwen4ever
Last updated 8 years ago

Social Studies
American History

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The Voyageurs

By Marleigh J. Van Dellen


The Voyageurs ate many things. They gathered berries and nuts. They also traded with local Indians for wild rice, fish, dried peas, and pemmican (dried bison meat).

Voyageurs were expected to paddle 50 strokes a minute. In a regular day, smoking was so important to a Voyageur that distance was measured in "Pipes". No, that does not mean actual pipes, but somewhere around 15 miles, or about 45 minutes of canoeing. At the end of a "pipe", someone would cry "Allumez!", French for "Light up", and everyone would stop for a smoke. Eeeww!

Lasting Impact

Today you can visit Voyageur National Park in Minnesota near International Falls. There, you can learn about a Voyageur life.


Sivertson, Howard. The Illustrated Voyageur: Paintings and Companion Stories. Mount Horeb, WI: Midwest Traditions, 1994. Print. "Female Voyageurs." Female Voyageurs. Northwest Journal, n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2013. "Voyageurs, The Fur Trade." National Park Service, n.d. Web. Oct.-Nov. 2013 "The Voyageurs." McGill University, n.d. Web. Kenney, Dave. Northern Lights: The Story of Minnesota's past. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society, 2000. Print. "What Did the Voyageurs Eat?" What Did the Voyageurs Eat? Voyageurs National Park, n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.

The Voyageurs50 strokes a minute

So who were these guys?

The Voyageurs were the "backbone" of the fur trade. They usually came from poor farmer families. They paddled canoes, hauled heavy loads, and did typical brute work. They paddled canoes full of goods such as guns and kettles, or furs that were already traded, to trade with Native American tribes, such as the Ojibwe and Dakota. They were most often found in their birchbark canoes in the Boundry Waters area, sweaty and hot.

Good eats

The Voyageur Experience


Who were the Voyageurs? What was their life like?

Women Voyageurs

Although there are very few reports of women Voyageurs, several men hint to us about women Voyageurs in their journal entries. Elder Alexander Henry wrote in his journal in 1775, "Some of my men... embarked the women in canoes". In 1796, Malchom Ross wrote in his brigade journal 'four large canoes...manned by fourteen other white men and two Indian women'. Other journals tell us about women whom accompanied their husbands on their Voyageur expeditions.

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