Our Heritage Monthly Lecture Series: Join the Iosco County Historical Society for this months lecture on Wednesday September 18th, at 6:30pm at Rushman Hall, 821 Newman St, East Tawas Mi. The topic is "French Settlers in Michigan". The lecturer will be Gerald Wykes. He is an exhibit specialist for the Monroe County Museum, curator and supervising interpreter of the Lake Erie Marshlands & Nature Center, interpreter for the Huron-Clinton Metroparks, a freelance artist and illustrator.
Gerald will share many cultural subjects about the French-Canadians,originally from Northern France. He will bring lots of props like clothes, skins, snowshoes, a beaver hat and a paddle used by the voyageurs. The history of the beaver trade would have been very different had the demand for the style of hat in Europe not exploded. A few bits and pieces from Gerald’s talk follow:
Gerald Wykes presentation on French-Canadian Culture,
Habitants – This French term for resident, usually lived on farms that were established perpendicular to a river in narrow widths and long lengths, looking like a ribbon. This allowed neighbors to be close and allowed as many as possible access to the river. Louis Chevalier’s claim on the Au Sable is a great example ofthis style.The French-Canadian relationship with the English was anything but cordial. They both found each other irritating, from the style of towns.
(English towns were built around a square vs the French ribbon farms along a river) to the better French-Canadian relationships with the Native Americans in both Canada and the United States.They had assimilated the living styles and many intermarried.
Fur trade and beavers – Fur traders are not to be confused with the voyageurs or the habitants. Each had their special roles to play. While the habitants often also trapped beaver to supplement their farm income, most of the trapping was done by Indians. The traders used price lists based on the quality of the pelts, including those of other animals, and negotiated the deals with the trappers. Fall and winter trapped beaver fur was more valuable than furs from beaver trapped in spring and summer.Voyageurs – They were the heavy haul truckers who transported trade supplies up the rivers and the furs down back down. The working life of avoyageur was relatively short, two or three years before they retired to become farmers, as it required great upper body strength to paddle the freight canoes and to carry the cargo on portages.On a portage, each voyageur carried two 90 pound packs (carrying only one was for wimps) in a harness wrapped across the forehead and back to his back. The purpose of the often colorful sashes they wore was to provide support for their stomach muscles (to prevent them from busting a gut).
Well, thats enough to picque your interest! Come on out September 18th!