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Making the Voyageur World


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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Sons of the Farm, the Trade, and the Wilderness; 2. Leaving Home: Family and Livelihood in French Canada and Beyond; 3. Rites of Passage: Voyageur Cosmology; 4. It is the Paddle That Brings Us: Voyageurs Working in Canoes; 5. The Theater of Hegemony: Masters, Clerks, and Servants; 6. Rendezvous: Parties, Tricks, and Friendships; 7. En Derouine: Life at Interior Fur Trade Posts; 8. Tender Ties, Fluid Monogramy, and Trading Sex: Voyageurs and Aboriginal Women; 9. Disengagement: Going Home and Going Free; 10. Conclusion: Carrying the World

Promotional Information

Reexamines the French Canadian workers who dominated the fur trade industry and became iconic images of North American lore.

About the Author

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.


"A rich and lively portrait of voyageur life. . . . Making the Voyageur World is the most comprehensive, scholarly, and interesting work on the voyaguers, who constituted one of the most significant groups of labourers in nineteenth-century Canada and the North American West."-Brett Rushforth, Itinerario * Itinerario *
"[Podruchny's] study provides a welcome examination of the society and cultural dynamics of this well-known but over-romanticized group of people who have suffered from generations of inaccurate stereotyping. . . . Her significant efforts have enabled her to present a vivid sense of the voyageurs' world, including much that is intriguing about their values, behaviors, and beliefs.-John T. McGrath, Journal of American History * Journal of American History *
"What is particularly impressive about Podruchny's work is her skillful interpretation of primary sources. The challenge in telling any story about the voyageurs is the fact that they were overwhelmingly illiterate and therefore left almost no written records of their own. Podruchny garners a great deal of information about the voyageurs from an examination of sources left by travelers, explorers, and particularly the bourgeois. . . . Podruchny's use of a large number of sources allows her to illuminate for the reader the rich cultural and social lives of voyageurs."-Brian Schefke, Pacific Northwest Quarterly * Pacific Northwest Quarterly *
"[Podruchny] has written an informative, engaging portrait of the voyageur world that will become the standard treatment for the present age. Podruchny's thematic approach allows her to illuminate broad patterns and make connections between themes that would be obscured in a more historical treatment."-Gerhard J. Ens, Western Historical Quarterly -- Gerhard J. Ens * Western Historical Quarterly *
"Podruchny's citations and bibliography display her exhaustive research, particularly in the papers of the Hudson's Bay Company and the companies that operated from Montreal, such as the North West Company. Podruchny also demonstrates a superlative understanding of the secondary literature as well the various works on social theory that she deftly employs in her examination of the voyageur world. Yet she does so without resorting to the opaque jargon that often obfuscates rather than illuminates much of contemporary historical writing. Indeed, Podruchny clearly has produced a seminal work."-Annals of Iowa * Annals of Iowa *
"Organized, clear, thorough, and readable. . . . Perhaps the greatest strength of Podruchny's book is the admirable depth of her research and the multifaceted nature of both her sources and her methodological and theoretical approach. . . . Podruchny excels in her analysis of the values, rituals and relationships of her voyageur subjects, linking their geographic liminality with the far-reaching changes to their cultural, social, and religious identity prompted by their unique form of employment. She adroitly exposes the many ironies of voyageur identity."-Emma Anderson, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History -- Emma Anderson * Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History *
"Podruchny's work is a valuable contribution for the clarity it brings to the daily experiences of the fur traders and the rhythms of their lives. . . . This work will be valuable to those who study French or British Canada and for those who have an interest in labor relations in a frontier environment. Scholars engaged in early Canadian history will be familiar with the broad contours of her interpretation, but will benefit from the details about the daily life and work of the voyageurs."-H-Net Book Reviews
* H-Net Book Reviews *

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