The Fur Trade at Lachine National Historic Site of Canada

The Women

"Trapper's Bride", Marriage Between an Amerindian and a Voyageur
© Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha / A. J. Miller / 1840

Women were not very active in the fur trade. However, Amerindian women played an important role. The winterers who stayed in the Northwest for long periods often married them. This event was known as "a fur-trade marriage".

The Amerindian women were indispensable to the voyageurs, since they knew how to survive in this land. They made moccasins, provided directions on which routes to follow, and carried heavy loads. But above all, they acted as intermediaries between the members of their tribe and the clerks.

Exhibit about the voyageurs"Running a rapid on the Mattawa River, Canada" from F. A. Hopkins
© National Archives of Canada / C-13585

Marie-Anne Gaboury, the wife of voyageur Jean-Baptiste Lagimodière, became the first White woman to settle in the Northwest. She would become the grandmother of Louis Riel, the Métis chief and hero. Another European woman would venture into this far-off land. Her name was Frances Ann Hopkins. She was the wife of Edward Hopkins, the secretary of George Simpson, the governor of the Hudson's Bay Company. A painter, she produced magnificent engravings illustrating the voyageur life.