the Fur Trade and Hudson's Bay Company
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Étienne Brűlé
(c. 1592-1633):
The First Coureur de Bois


Étienne Brûlé left his home in France and set sail for the new colony Quebec at the age of 16. Champlain sent him to live among the Huron people in 1610. He learned their language and their customs. This helped the colonist learn to understand their Huron neighbours.

Brûlé was an excellent scout, or pathfinder. He went on many expeditions for Champlain and the fur traders. He explored the land west of Quebec. He had to travel through uncharted wilderness. He learned how to survive from the First Nations peoples.

Brûlé later left the colony and returned to live with the Huron people. He lived with them for over 20 years. He became a great disappointment to Champlain. When the British captured Quebec in 1629, Champlain believed that it was Brûlé who had guided them up the St. Lawrence River. Brûlé was viewed as a traitor. The Huron people killed him a few years later. Champlain said he would not seek justice for the death of a traitor.

Ask yourself...
What do you think Brűlé's most important accomplishment was?

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