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The fur trade influenced the historical development of Canada in a number of ways including: the development and expansion into western and northern Canada; the significance of Canadian place names; the origin and rise of the Métis Nation; the impact of interaction between the First Peoples and the Europeans-and these connections can be found in personal and commercial stories about the people and events of the fur trade.

Image 1
Creator: Ahmoo; Eastern Subarctic; Lac Seul Post area, Ontario; Anishnaabe (Ojibwa)
Year made: Early 1920s
Dimensions: 102 cm long; 18 cm wide
Location: The Manitoba Museum; Artifact HBC 2270
Copyright Holder: The Manitoba Museum

(M28) Anishnaabe Canoe

Model of a canoe with two paddles. The canoe is made from birch bark, wood, spruce root and blackened spruce gum.

Other Related Material
Read more about transportation - enter 'canoes' or 'transportation' in the search box to your left.

Check the Beaver Index - e.g., 'canoes,' 'Anishnaabe,' 'Ojibway,' 'birch bark,' etc.

Did You Know?
Model canoes were made for toys and as handicraft items for trade to Europeans. This example was constructed by Ahmoo (Bee), an Anishnaabe man, according to a traditional style used by the Ojibwa.

Bark canoes built by Indigenous peoples, and in particular, those made from the paper birch tree or Betula papyrifera, were used throughout much of Canada’s subarctic and woodlands regions. It was quickly adopted as an essential form of transportation by explorers and fur traders.

The birch bark canoe was lightweight and could easily be repaired from locally available materials such as bark for patching, spruce root (watape) for repairing seams, and spruce gum for making the seams watertight. These supplies were often stocked at the fur posts and were carried in the canoes during long journeys.

As voyageurs travelled further into the interior regions, transporting heavier loads of supplies and furs back and forth, larger vessels were required. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, canoes built at Trois Rivières were considered to be of superior quality.

The sizes and designs of canoes varied with the demands of the transportation routes. The canot du maître or “Master Canoe” averaged 11 metres by 1.8 metres and could carry 2.7 tonnes of cargo. It was used in trade over larger bodies of water between Lachine in Quebec and Grand Portage at the head of Lake Superior.

The canot du nord or “north canoe” averaged about 8.8 metres by 1.4 metres and could transport 1.36 tonnes of cargo. It was more suited to travel on smaller rivers, shallower water and in areas where frequent portaging was necessary. The smaller Aboriginal birch bark canoe was approximately 5.5 metres by 0.9 metres and could hold a 0.7 tonne load.