de Bois: Runners of the
fur trade first began, First Nations and Inuit people brought the
furs to the trading posts. They would arrive by canoe. The furs
would be unloaded and traded for goods such as muskets,
axes, knives, blankets, whisky and pots. It was not long before
some of the men at the trading posts decided they would go inland
and get the fur themselves. These were the people known as the
de bois learned the ways of the woods from the First Nations. They
were taught how to canoe, hunt and snowshoe. Canoes were made out
of birch bark the way the Natives taught them. They dressed in the
same kinds of clothes and ate the same food as the First Nation
peoples. A typical meal consisted of pemmican,
deer meat and dried corn and peas.
birch tree was the most important resource for life in the woods.
It was used to build and repair canoes on the journey. Shelters
were built with the branches and the bark. The bark was also good
for drawing maps on and for writing messages. The bark could even
be eaten if there was no other food!