. . . my long Sufferings by the hand of Mr. Henry Schoolcraft: a letter from John Tanner, 1837

. . . my long Sufferings by the hand of Mr. Henry Schoolcraft: a letter from John Tanner, 1837

John Tanner was a white child captured and raised by Indians. becoming an adult within communities of Ojibwe of the Lake Superior and American-British borderlands. His personal story was recorded by scientific scholar and army surgeon Dr. Edwin James and published under the title “The Falcon.” Tanner worked at times as Ojibwe language interpreter for Henry Schoolcraft and for Dr. James and James used Tanner’s insights and translations as the basis for an Ojibwe grammar book as well as scholarly lectures. Here, in an 1837 letter, Tanner tells the President of the U.S. how his family was taken from him with Henry Schoolcraft’s complicity.

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Ramblings of an Old Voyageur, part 3

Ramblings of an Old Voyageur, part 3

Many years ago, veteran La Compagnie member Tom Brennan set pen to paper to share his “personal adventure of interpretation.” He described how we are all volunteers doing the best we can. If at the end of the day, we have awakened memories in a visitor, inspired interest in studying more history for a school child or simply introduced someone to a small segment of history and have had fun doing it, have we not done our job? Tom is gone now, but his ideas continue to resonate with us and encourage us to become better interpreters. Part 3 of 3.

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Ramblings of an Old Voyageur, part 2

Ramblings of an Old Voyageur, part 2

Many years ago, veteran La Compagnie member Tom Brennan set pen to paper to share his “personal adventure of interpretation.” He described his struggles with the question of what is it that we do when we interpret a different era to others. He set out what he discovered along the way, the basic principles of interpretation that he had developed over the years. Tom is gone now, but his ideas continue to resonate with any of us on the journey to becoming better interpreters

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Ramblings of an Old Voyageur, part 1

Ramblings of an Old Voyageur, part 1

Many years ago, veteran La Compagnie member Tom Brennan set pen to paper to share his “personal adventure of interpretation.” He described his struggles with the question of what is it that we do when we interpret a different era to others. He set out what he discovered along the way, the basic principles of interpretation that I have developed over the years. Tom is gone now, but his ideas continue to resonate with any of us on the journey to becoming better interpreters

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Winter Frolic at the North West Company Fur Post

Winter Frolic at the North West Company Fur Post

The annual Winter Frolic event at the North West Company Fur Post is a chance for the site to show off its winter interpretation . . . good snow cover, a frozen river, sixty pairs of snow shoes and the skills and enthusiasm of La Compagnie members and site staff and volunteers gave visitors an authentic view of the seasonal nature of the fur trade. Though the weather was unusually mild and wet, the event was well attended with lots of great activities for visitors. Spencer’s ice fishing lodge was a favorite but the curling was challenging and a lot of kids had fun there despite the ice being more of a water hazard than a curling field (are they called fields?). Inside there was winter storytelling and lots of “tavern” games such as Nine-Men’s-Morris to distract visitors from their thoroughly soaked mittens and boots.

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Three things: interpreting the Dakota fur trade

Three things: interpreting the Dakota fur trade

This is my latest brainstorm about the differences in interpreting the fur trade at Dakota sites versus the fur trade at Ojibwe sites. In other words, what's the story, and how is it different, depending on where we are interpreting; for example, at the Faribault...

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Interpreting the Fur Trade at The Landing

Interpreting the Fur Trade at The Landing

For almost every living history event we do, context is hugely important in delivering effective interpretation. As we all know, there are layers upon layers of context, a variety of circumstances and facts that surround the event. I’m embarrassed to say I missed a layer or two in my preparation for a recent event; I could not offer the quality of interpretation I think the visitors deserved. So here are some suggested resources that are helping me learn more about the fur trade between the American companies and the Dakota in the Minnesota River Valley in the years before Minnesota statehood.

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Mittens: Warm hands for voyageurs!

Mittens: Warm hands for voyageurs!

Hardy modern voyageurs know that keeping hands warm and dry when working outside during winter is very important. But how best to protect those digits when you’re reenacting the “little ice age” winters of the late 18th and early 19th centuries? Obviously, something that warms, insulates and keeps fingers functional are needed, but what is historically accurate? Mittens! not only period appropriate, historically accurate and documented from fur trade sources but effective and easy to make.

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Fall Gathering 2016

Fall Gathering 2016

The third weekend in September is the annual Fall Gathering at the North West Company Fur Post in Pine City, MN.  We had excellent representation from La Compagnie. We had twelve tents set up by the Snake River, with over 20 members present, most staying at the camp...

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History meets Fiction: Novels about the fur trade

History meets Fiction: Novels about the fur trade

As winter approaches, my list of fur trade related projects always grows: make new items of historic clothing. Repair and improve my camp gear. Try out new historic receipts. Research, research and more research. To me, research usually means reading. And there’s nothing better than a good book to pass the time and inspire me to improve my interpretation. So, now that your rendezvous gear is packed away for the winter, what’s on your reading list?

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About Us

At events, we generally portray veteran voyageurs—the hivernants or wintering men—and their families. In reality, we are history geeks. We’re especially geeky about the fur trade era in the upper Midwest, roughly 1790 through 1840. Some of us like to write.

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