Tag Archives: northwest company

Historic Highway

The Lavase River was used to transport furs from the West to Montreal.

Northwest Company canoes passed this spot in Spring and Fall from 1779 to 1821.

Up ahead just around the corner, is Lake Nipissing.

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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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