Monday, December 8, 2014

Les coureurs des bois

Coureurs des bois were itinerant, unlicensed fur traders of New France known as "wood-runners" to the English on Hudson Bay and "bush-lopers" to the Anglo-Dutch of Albany (NY). Few French colonists had ventured west of the Ottawa River until the mid-1660s, when a sudden drop in the price of beaver, the arrival of some 3000 indentured servants and soldiers, and peace with the Iroquois made the change both necessary and feasible. By 1680, despite repeated prohibitions from both the church and colonial authorities, some 500 coureurs de bois were in the Lake Superior country attempting to outdistance the Indian middlemen. As a result, fewer Indians brought furs to trade at Montréal and Trois-Rivières, inducing colonial merchants to hire some coureurs de bois in order to remain in business.

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