Thursday, May 4, 2017

Homage To My LaPrairie Voyageur Ancestors

As I've stated previously in "Ripples from La Prairie Voyageur Canoes," I've been interested in the North American fur trade for the past 35 years.  

Here's a photo (above) from a 1988 Rendezvous reenactment at Hart Canyon in California.  That's me on the far left.  I sure wish I hadn't sold that little hunters tipi.

Back in the 1980s, I began collecting fur trade artifacts and replica souvenirs.  Then in 2011, I made a breakthrough in my family genealogy, and over the past six years I've discovered over 100 voyageur ancestors, mostly from LaPrairie, Quebec, Canada.

During this past year I've started collecting more fur trade memorabilia as a way to pay homage to my ancestors.

My Fur Trade Collection

Replica North West Company 1820 token (worth one made beaver) and trade beads: yellow French cross, red white hearts, and small blue padre beads.

Trade silver Montreal cross and trade beads: Lewis and Clark with small blue padre beads.

Trade silver beaver effigy pendant and mixed trade beads.

My Ancestry Paper Trail

1763, Apr 29, Engagement of Joseph Pinsonneau dit Lafleur (1733-1779) (5th great-grandfather) voyageur, to Michel Laselle, a Montreal merchant, to go to Detroit. Notary Hadiesne.

Jean-Baptiste Mignier (Meunier) Lagasse (Lagace) (1749-1828) (5th great-grandfather) • 1778, Ezechiel Solomon hired Jean-Baptiste Meunier, voyageur de La Prairie de la Magdeleine to go to Mississippi, and spend the winter, Notary Antoine Foucher.

1793, Mar 18, Michel Vielle dit Cossé (1771-1810) (5th great-uncle) Engaged as a voyageur to go to dans le Nord-Ouest du Canada (far north west) for traders McTavish, Frobisher and Company aka North West Company. The contract states he is a Bowmen (Avant) who acted as the guide.

1797, August 11, Engagement of Gabriel Pinsonneau (1770-1807) (4th great-grandfather) of La Prairie, to Jacques & François Laselle to go to Detroit. Notary Louis Chaboillez.

1797, Feb 14, Engagement of Joseph Vielle dit Cossé (1767-_) (5th great-uncle) voyageur, to go to Nord Ouest [North West], Nipigon and Lac Superieur for traders McTavish, Frobisher and Company aka North West Company. Hired by company representative Alexander Mackenzie. The contract states he is a Bowmen (Avant) the man located in the front (or bow) of the canoe who acted as the guide.

Jean-Baptiste Meunier (Mignier, Minier) Lagasse (Lagace) (1776-1835) (4th greatgrandfather) • 1803, Oct 6, McTavish, Frobisher & Co. (North West Company) hired Jean-Baptiste Meunier voyageur de St-André-d’Argenteuil to go to Lac De La Pluie (Rainy Lake), notary Louis Chaboillez).  Contract Notes: Go through Michilimakinac if required, make two trips from Kamanatiguià Fort to Portage de la Montagne, and give six days of drudgery, and help carry the three canoes in the land.

The learn more see:

Happy paddling.


  1. Hi, I came across your blog while looking at voyageur pictures. I come from the family Beauchamp, born in St. Boniface, Manitoba. My grandfather Alfred Beauchamp was a descendant of Jean le Petit Beauchamp which makes Jacques and Pierre my 10th great uncles. I am doing some research on the voyageurs in my family and writing about it at my blog Leaves In the Wind ( nothing too formal just the things I find interesting. I am fascinated by your trade beads! Also, how did you get your hands on the actual copies of the contracts?

  2. See the database at If they have a copy of an original contract they will make and email a photocopy for a fee. You'll need the voyageurs name and date of course. Good luck an happy hunting.