Saturday, 27 July 2013

Voyager Comparison to Coureur de bois.

Comparison to Coureur de bois

These two terms have had broad and overlapping uses, but their emblematic meanings in the context of the fur trade business were more distinct. Voyageurs were the canoe transportation workers in organized, licensed long distance transportation of furs and trade goods in the interior of the continent. Coureur de bois were entrepreneur woodsman engaged in various things including fur trading. The Coureur de bois's zenith preceded the Voyageur era, and Voyageurs partially replaced them. For those Coureur de bois who continued, the term picked up the additional meaning of "unlicensed".[1][10]


The Mapmaker.

The Voyageurs
In 1715 it was discovered that rodents and insects had consumed the glut of beaver fur in French warehouses. The market immediately revived. As an item on the balance sheet of French external trade, furs were minuscule, and their share was shrinking proportionately as trade in tropical produce and manufactured goods increased; however, the fur trade was the backbone of the Canadian economy.

Unlike the HBC with its monolithic structure staffed by paid servants, in New France  the trade was carried on into the early 18th century by scores of small partnerships. As costs rose with distance, the trade came to be controlled by a small number of BOURGEOIS, who hired hundreds of wage-earning VOYAGEURS. Most companies consisted of three or four men who obtained from the authorities the lease on the trade at a specific post for three years; all members shared profits or losses proportional to the capital subscribed. Trade goods were usually obtained on credit, at 30 per cent interest, from a small number of MontrĂ©al merchants who also marketed the furs through their agents in France. The voyageurs' wages varied from 200 to 500 livres if they wintered in the West. For those who paddled the canoes westward in the spring and returned with the autumn convoy, the usual wage was 100-200 livres plus their keep (about double what a labourer or artisan would earn in the colony).



1 comment:

Gorges Smythe said...

I'm sure it was a rough life, but I suppose MOST lives were rough back then.