Tag Archives: fur trade

Westward Ho!

The mouth of the Lavase River at Lake Nipissing.

From this point the Voyageurs of the early Canada fur trade crossed Lake Nipissing and began the trip down the French River to Lake Huron.

The eventual destination was Western Canada where the goods they were carrying were exchanged for furs.

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Looking West Monochrome

A black and white version of yesterday’s post.

Looking West Mono

The canoe routes to the West of Canada entered Lake Nipissing a little to the South of this location and disappeared into the mouth of the French River on the horizon to the left. Canoes passed this way Spring and Fall for over 100 years.

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1820’s Portage

Imagine voyageurs padding along this path in early spring on the way to Lake Superior.

This is part of the Lavase Portages  which saw such traffic for 150 years.

Opening Canada to commerce one (large) canoe at a time.

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Lavase Portage

For about 150 years the canoes of the North West Company left Montreal in the spring bound for Grand Portage on Lake Superior.  There they met canoes from Western Canada and exchanged trading goods and supplies for furs.  Returning by the same route in late summer they would arrive in Montreal in the fall.  This is a part of one of the many portages that they were forced to make.  It lies between the Ottawa/Mattawa river system and Lake Nipissing.  Crossing this portage got the canoes to Lake Nipissing and eventually via the French River into Lake Huron which connected to Lake Superior.

An exciting story which includes this unexciting piece of swamp where the mud (“la vase”) and the mosquitos drove the Voyageurs to distraction with every upriver trip.  By autumn, the mosquitos were gone and the swamp drier.

The canoes portaged here were large “canots de maitre”, 35-40 feet long and carrying up to 10 000 pounds including a crew of 10-14 paddlers.

In recent years, the Friends of the Lavase Portages have worked hard to keep them open and in the public mind.  It has been an uphill battle from the beginning.

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