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French River

Canada's River Heritage, Routes of the Fur Traders


French River



Date of Issue

April 22, 1994




Postal Administration



Canada's River Heritage, Routes of the Fur Traders

Series Time Span


Perforation or Dimension



Canadian Bank Note Company, Limited.


Designed by Malcolm Waddell Based on illustrations by Jan Waddell

About Stamp

Ontario's French River flows in a east-to-west direction, south of Sudbury and west of North Bay, linking the Lake Nipissing with Georgian Bay, the northeast arm of Lake Huron. Since this river brought the French to the area, the Ojibwas called it "Wemitigoj-Sibi" - a name similar to that used by Champlain in 1616 - "La Rivière des Français" - the River of the French. Hurons and Algonquians served as middlemen, preventing French to access to the more westerly tribes across the Great Lakes. In 1649 the Iroquois destroyed the Huron Nation and routed the Algonquians. This forced the French to move inland with the French River playing an important link on the expansion of the French fur trade. Whatever the destination, the French River became the "highway" to the Great Lakes part of the "Trans-Canada Highway No. 1". It was the path for the North West Company, a group of Montreal-based Scottish and English merchants. The company sent large canoes (canot de maître) from Lachine to Grand Portage at the west end of Lake Superior. With a crew of 8-10 men and capable of carrying 3 tonnes, they departed in May and returned in September, usually travelling in brigades of 10 to 20. The Montreal men (called "mangeurs de lard" or "porkeaters") met the "winterers" at Grand Portage to exchange cargoes. Normally the spring downstream voyage was a day's journey, following the River's south channel with two portages. Since the voyageurs wanted a route that protected them from the open waters of Lake Huron, they utilized the westernmost of the four mouths of the French - marked on maps as "Old Voyageur Channel".
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Canada Post Corporation. Canada's Stamps Details, Vol. 3, No. 2, 1994, p. 11-12.

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