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Joyeux Noël

Joyeux Noël

As it is Christmas Eve, I figure it is a good time to post a little fun for the holidays! The following are some fun and random quotes from past Christmas days in fur trade journals out here in the western Great Lakes and beyond.

Hugh Faries,1804 around Rainy Lake…

“Tues-day 25th. This morning I gave each of the men a dram. at breakfast they began to buy rum and drank untill 12 o’clock at night. Some of the X.Y. men came down. Mr. Lacombe came down at 1 oclock and went home about dusk. Richard arrived.”

John Sayer, 1804 on the Snake River, MN…

“Tuesday 25th. Cloudy with Snow. as 10 AM La Prairie came & paid me a Visit. good Accts from his post. this being Christmas Day gave a treat of Rum &c to my Men which occasiond several Battles. Bellaire brot 2 Deers from Peaux Dourson.”

Archibald McLeod, 1800 in the Swan River Dept. …

“Thursday 25th . Being Christmass I gave the men a dram, Mr McGillis went off, &. Lambert with him, four men came from the River Qui Appelle, who brought me a letter from Mr. McDonell…”

Daniel Harmon made interesting notes in 1802 and 1803 basically complaining of the voyageurs’ drinking and fighting and how it detracted from the meaning of the day…

“This being Christmas Day our people pay no further attention to Worldly affairs than to Drink all Day.”

In 1806 Harmon was pleased to have his voyageurs gone and spent his day reading from the Bible and meditating on Christ’s birth rather than being bothered by his men.

Gabriel Franchere, 1812…

“The 25th of December, Christmas Day, was spent pleasantly. We treated our men to the best that the post could offer, which delighted them as they had lived for nearly two months on fish dried by fire, which is very poor food.”

Of course, not everyone had fun; or commented that they were. In 1803, George Nelson here in Wisconsin states, “Our men arrive each a pack – I hire an indian to make us another lay as we are too busy ourselves.”

In all, Christmas was often a laid back day of celebration here in the interior posts. A time to drink, eat, and smoke. Of course, New Years was a bigger celebration out here at most posts, but that is a different day and a different subject…

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