UNIT-Local history ComponentDayTitle: The French Fur TradeFocus: The French came to the Great Lakes to trade furs with the Chippewa.Connection: Remember when we discussed how the European Explorers discovered valuable fur in the Great Lakes Region. Today we are going to learn about the fur trade that took place in the Sault Ste.Marie area.
Frenchmen from Montreal came to the Sault area to trade for furs with the Chippewas.
a. Traders came in huge canoes paddled by voyageurs to trade with the Indians.
b. The spring meeting of the traders and Indians was called the rendez-vous.
c. Indians traded furs (beaver was the most valuable) for the essential goods the traders brought.
Resource Materials for Teachers: (pronunciation of voyageurs is voy-ah-zhjoor)
For a while, the Ottawas brought furs directly to Montreal to trade, but soon the French found that going to the back country themselves would be advantageous. Grace Nute’s book The Voyageur (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1955 reprint) is a great resource for learning in depth what the voyageurs lives were like, and what they accomplished. It really is an exciting tale, probably known far less than the story of the Pony Express, and yet the voyageur era lasted about 200 years, while the Pony Express lasted but three! Many of the French names in the Eastern Upper Peninsula can be found among lists of engagés (pronounced ahn-ga-zhjay) — that is to say, voyageurs who “signed on” as canoemen for a term of service with a fur-trading company. The voyageurs are discussed on pp. 47-51 of City of the Rapids.
Active Engagement: Color Book with descriptive text pages 8-9student pages.
Share: Students bring an item to barter with their classmates. Contact Mackinac State Parks to schedule a school presentation on the fur trade.