Monday, September 17, 2007

North West Company Fur Trading Post

voyageur canoe, snake river, minnesotaVoyageur's canoe

This weekend, Doug and I took the boys to the 2007 Fall Gathering at the North West Company Fur Post in Pine City, Minnesota. One of the Minnesota Historical Society sites, the fur post is a replica of John Sayer's post from 1804. The guided tour was entertaining and informative, with costumed volunteers re-enacting different activities and sharing interesting facts about life at the trading post for the Ojibwe, traders and voyageurs.

north west company fur post, pine city, minnesotaFur Post

fur post living quartersLiving quarters for an assistant clerk

The building itself contained four rooms of living quarters for the paid staff and a store for trading. The comfort and size of the rooms varied, depending on who lived there.

fur post trading campTrading camp
Other things we learned:

*How men's fashion created a world market for beaver hats.

*The changes that trade goods made to the life of the Ojibwe people.

*Where the trade goods came from all over the world and how many beaver skins were required to purchase the different items.

*The ingenious method used by the Ojibwe to heat their wigwams, including rock foundations heated by the cooking fire and moss insulation between the double layer of birch bark walls.

*In the spring, the voyageurs who stayed at the post transported the furs collected over the winter to larger posts such as Grand Portage or Fort William, where they met the supply boats from Montreal. News, furs and trade goods were all exchanged during this gathering before the different groups returned to their posts.

*Voyageurs would paddle their canoes for 14 to 16 hours a day, averaging one stroke per second, with one short rest per hour. They were also required to carry two 90 pound packs during a portage.

We had a great time, and I highly recommend a visit to this historic site.

fur post reenactors