Where most people would prefer to enjoy the tranquility of leisurely paddling a canoe on a placid Northern Ontario Lake or a gentle meandering stream on a lazy summer day, for some, the challenges that Nature offers on a roaring, raging river, are irresistible.
In this original watercolor painting the wild splashes of exploding water that crashes in to mountainous igneous rock boulders of the precambrian Canadian Shield envelope the courageous adventurers and bring focus to the tension and skill of these voyageurs of today. If you are brave enough to tackle such an arduous challenge and survive the grueling treacherous white water, it is not difficult to imagine the monumental challenges faced by the pioneer explorers called the Coureur des Bois and les Voyageurs who risked their lives on a daily basis as they made their way west through the wild primeval forest wilderness.
Early seventeenth century travel on this continent was dangerous and the Coureurs des Bois (runners of the woods) who traded in uncharted territory, had a high mortality rate. Typically, they left Montreal in spring, as soon as the rivers and lakes were clear of ice, with their birch bark canoes loaded with supplies and goods that would be traded for furs with Native trappers. Traveling west through unmapped remote boreal forest territory to the richest beaver lands was usually done in large birch bark canoes by way of the Ottawa and Mattawa rivers and required numerous overland portages to circumvent the wildest white water and waterfall areas. The term "Voyageurs" (travelers) was applied to licensed fur traders or to those in the employ of a legitimate merchant. The life and labor of the voyageur involved long journeys westward deep into the wilderness by canoe carrying trade goods and returning with beaver pelts. The most famous of these early explorers were brothers-in-law, Radisson and des Groseilliers who are credited with contributing to the formation of the Hudson's Bay Company in the late 1600's.
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June 7th, 2010
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