Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Fur Trade Lives On in the Art of Yesterday

Voyageur Canoes...

Monday, February 6, 2017

Ripples from La Prairie Voyageur Canoes

1692, Voyageur engagement for Gabriel Lemieux

Ripples from La Prairie Voyageur Canoes

I have been putting together a collection of essays and family histories about the voyageur ancestors of Lucy Pinsonneau (1836 - 1917), my 2nd great grandmother. 

The collection titled, Ripples from La Prairie Voyageur Canoes, covers well over 100 of Lucy's ancestors, from more than 25 families, that were engaged in the fur trade between the 1620s and 1840s in New France and later Canada. 

Ripples from La Prairie Voyageur Canoes, is available here...

Here are the links to individual chapters:

Introduction, Contents and Chapter One - La Prairie de la Magdeleine

Chapter Two - Our Earliest Fur Trade Ancestors

Chapter Three - La Prairie's Barrette Family

Chapter Three - La Prairie's Bourassa Family

Chapter Three - La Prairie's Boyer Family

Chapter Three - La Prairie's Deneau Family

Chapter Three - La Prairie's Diel Family

Chapter Three - La Prairie's Dupuis Family

Chapter Three - La Prairie's Duquet Family

Chapter Three - La Prairie's Gagne Family

Chapter Three - La Prairie's Leber Family

Chapter Three - La Prairie's Lemieux Family

Chapter Three - La Prairie's Migner dit Lagacé Family

Chapter Three - La Prairie's Perras Family

Chapter Three - La Prairie's Pinsonneau Family

Chapter Three - La Prairie's Poupart Family

Chapter Three - La Prairie's Vielle Family

Chapter Four, Voyageur Families of Trois-Rivières and Quebec

Chapter Four, Quebec's Amiot Family

Chapter Four, Quebec's Beauchamp Family

Chapter Four, Quebec's Cloutier Family & Jean Mignault dit Chatillon

Chapter Four, Quebec's Cusson Family

Chapter Four, Quebec's Dardenne Family

Chapter Four, Quebec's Desroches Family

Chapter Four, Quebec's Godefroy Family

Chapter Four, Quebec's Godet Family

Chapter Four, Quebec's Miville Family

Chapter Four, Quebec's Moreau Family

Chapter Four, Quebec's Nepveu Family & Denise Sevestre

Chapter Four, Quebec's Picard Family

Chapter Four, Quebec's Rivet Family

Chapter Four, Quebec's Sedilot Family

Chapter Five, Miscellaneous Fur Trade Ancestors

Chapter Six - Ancestors in 1600s Fur Trade Timeline

Chapter Six - Ancestors 1700s Fur Trade Timeline

Chapter Seven, French Canadian Heritage of Lucy Pinsonneau

Appendix One - French Era Fur Trade Forts, Posts and Depots

About the Author



Index - Ripples from La Prairie Voyageur Canoes

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Are Snowshoes -- A Wiser Choice For Old Folks?

They say you're never too old to learn, but a cowboy hero of mine named Will Rogers also said, "Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment."

Cross Country Skis For Old Folks?

In 2014, I bought a new pair of NNN style cross country skis, and planned a late season trip to Badger Pass in Yosemite National Park to try them out. 

Badger Pass has ski conditions posted online, and the latest report (March 2014) stated the snow surface is "spring conditions."  I soon learned first hand that "spring conditions" is really euphemism for solid ice.

To make a long story short, the lessons learned at the Badger Pass cryosphere were:

1.) an artificial hip makes it difficult to do a snow plough on ice
2.) ski poles do not replace good snow plough technique
3.) you can't pole vault with cross country ski poles.

Don't get me wrong, if you're young, athletic, and a reasonably skilled Nordic skier Badger Pass has plenty to offer, and the scenery is spectacular.

That little adventure resulted in a broken ski pole, and trip to an orthopedic surgeon for an MRI which revealed at torn ligament in my shoulder.  I opted not to have surgery.  The pain is finally gone and I have fair strength, so I guess the ligament has somewhat repaired itself.

What I learned is... if you are nearly 75 years-old, haven't skied much recently, and have an artificial hip maybe using cross country skis isn't the best idea.

For Old Folks Snowshoes Might Be A Wiser Choice

I'm either a slow learner, don't give up easily, or maybe it's the fond memories of winter forest adventures from the past.  Whatever it is, I am once again drawn to the enchanted winter wonderland that wilderness trails offer.

This year (2017) I did some research, watched a bunch of online videos, and have purchased snowshoes, trekking poles, winter boots, and other winter gear from my favorite online retailer -- LL Bean.

LL Bean's breathable, waterproof Snow Sneakers  rated +35° to -5°

Because I am "an old guy" I often end up traveling alone, and as always when traveling in a wilderness area I carry a few essentials that will make my trip more enjoyable, and just might save my life.

As you may know I'm an avid canoeist, so I have lots of survival gear in my canoeing equipment bag.  The important thing is to remember to return borrowed essentials to my canoe bag at the end of winter.


SNOWSHOES: ☐ snowshoes ☐ trekking poles ☐ gaiters

WEAR: ☐ nylon shorts ☐ long sleeve poly undershirt ☐ Swix ski pants ☐ ski jacket ☐ heavy wicking wool socks ☐ snow sneakers ☐ wool cap ☐ ski gloves ☐ Swiss army watch ☐ sunglasses ☐ wallet, car keys & cash ☐ waterproof camera

BACKPACK: ☐ topo map ☐ √ whistle & compass ☐ √ first aid kit ☐ √ Swiss army knife, wire, multi tool, wire & duct tape (snowshoe or canoe repairs) ☐ √ SOL emergency bivy, paracord & survival book  ☐ √ headlamp & extra batteries ☐ √ Lighter, SOL fire starter & sierra cup ☐ toilet paper ☐ waterproof shell jacket ☐ extra cap, socks & gloves ☐ bottle of water ☐ thermos of hot coffee ☐ √ sunblock & lip balm ☐ energy bars ☐ hand warmers

VEHICLE: ☐ tire chains ☐ emergency shovel ☐ blankets ☐ flares & tools ☐ food ☐ hand & foot warmers ☐ battery-powered lantern ☐ extra clothes, boots, gloves & cap

√ return to canoe extras bag

Happy Trails

Monday, January 23, 2017

Great Grandfather Canoes to Lac la Pluie (Rainy Lake)

Jean Baptiste Meunier (Mignier) said Lagassé (Lagacé) (1776–1835), my 4th great-grandfather, was born 24 Apr 1776 in Terrebonne, Quebec, Canada.  He died before 1835 in St-Laurent, Québec, Canada.  He married Marie Angelique Baret (Barette) dit Courville (1779 - 1815) 21 Oct 1799 in Laprairie, Quebec, Canada.

Jean Baptiste's Voyageur Contracts

(1800, Feb 14 - James & Andrew McGill hired Jean-Baptiste Meunier voyageur de Chambly to go to Mississippi, and spend the winter, notary Louis Chaboillez). From the Archives of Quebec, M620/1200.

(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). From the Archives of Quebec.  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.


Jean-Baptiste Mignier (Minier) Lagasse (Lagace) (1776 - 1835) -- son of Jean-Baptiste Mignier (Meunier) Lagasse (Lagace)

Marie Emélie (Mary) Meunier Lagassé (1808 - 1883) -- daughter of Jean-Baptiste Mignier (Minier) Lagasse (Lagace)

Lucy Passino (1836 - 1917) -- daughter of Marie Emélie (Mary) Meunier Lagassé -- my 2nd great-grandmother


• His father is: Jean-Baptiste Mignier (Meunier) Lagasse (Lagace) (1749 - 1828) -- my 5th great-grandfather,  was also a voyageur.

• By 1800 Rainy Lake and Rainy River were witnessing heavy travel. Here was the main route of the fur trade, the voyageurs' highway that linked the Great Lakes with outposts in the remote interior. Both the Hudson's Bay Co. and its rival, North West Co., had trading posts in Fort Frances.  Source:

• Fort Lac la Pluie was a fur trade depot established by the North West Company sometime between 1775 and 1787. It was located on a high bank on the west side of modern Fort Frances, Ontario across from International Falls, Minnesota on the Rainy River downstream (west) of some rapids (Chaudière portage) where the river flows out of Rainy Lake. Upstream at the outlet of the lake was the old French post of Fort Saint Pierre (1731-1758).

The place was a depot rather than a trading post and served two purposes. By this time the trade had reached the rich Lake Athabasca country which was too far to reach from Montreal in one season. Each May, when the ice broke up, boats with trade goods would head west from Montreal and winterers with canoe-loads of fur would head east. They would meet at Grand Portage on Lake Superior, exchange goods and head back before the freezup. To further save time goods and furs would be shuttled between Grand Portage and Lac la Pluie. Second, it was a source of food. The voyageurs had no time to hunt and it was difficult to haul food from Montreal. Rainy Lake produced wild rice and fish. The fort also built kegs and canoes.  Source:

1825 census Chateauguay, Quebec, Canada

• On the 1825 census (a few years before his death) Jean-Baptiste Meunier was living in Chateauguay, Huntingdon, Lower Canada.  His daughter Marie Emélie Meunier dit Lagassé and her husband Gabriel Pinsonneau, Lucy's parents, are also living in the same neighborhood.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

President Trump please say “no” to Twin Metals’ sulfide mine

Save the Boundary Waters

Twin Metals Minnesota (TMM) has been pursuing the development and operation of a modern underground copper, nickel and platinum group metals (PGM) mine in northeast Minnesota.  The project would be the first underground mine allowed in Minnesota in more than 50 years.

Twin Metals, a foreign mining company, has pushed plans to develop their sulfide-ore mine where the South Kawishiwi River flows into the BWCAW.

During the summer of 2016, more than 74,000 people and 200 sportsmen’s organizations, businesses, and conservation groups sent letters expressing opposition to renewing the expired Twin Metals leases. 

They said, “If allowed, sulfide-ore copper mining development in the watershed of the BWCAW would inevitably pollute surrounding lakes’ groundwater and downstream waters in the BWCAW. The development of a mine would taint the quality and reputation of the BWCAW as a hunting and fishing paradise.”

On Dec. 16, 2016, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture said “no” to Twin Metals’ potential sulfide mine by not renewing expired mineral leases, and taking back mineral leases on the edge of the BWCA wilderness.

Now Twin Metals Minnesota (TMM) is trying to create a movement to ask President-elect Donald Trump and his administration to reverse a recent decision by federal officials that could close more than 200,000 acres of Northeastern Minnesota to mining.

President-elect Trump please say “no” to Twin Metals’ sulfide mine

Dear President Donald Trump,

I am a 74 year-old Republican and canoeing enthusiast who voted for you in the recent election.  America needs to be "Great Again."

It's been over 30 years since I spent a week in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA), but memories of that trip are among my most cherished.

I wish that every American could spend a week canoeing in a true wilderness.  I honestly believe Henry David Thoreau's words, "In wildness is the preservation of the world" are important to remember.

Please do not allow any mining operation that would taint the magnificent wilderness of the BWCA.

Thank you.

Jerry England

The lakes and rivers of Voyageurs National Park are also at risk from proposed sulfide mining projects in its watershed.  SEE:

You can help

• sign the petition and consider making a donation

Only when the last tree has died
and the last river been poisoned 
and the last fish been caught 
will we realize we cannot eat money

-- Cree Indian Proverb

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Art in my DNA

Mom admiring my Pennsylvania Dutch folk art frame (1973)

Pennsylvania Dutch art is a distinctive folk style transplanted by European immigrants who settled in southeastern Pennsylvania. 

Characterized by the bold use of color and motifs that emphasize birds, flowers, and elaborate decoration, Pennsylvania Dutch art was nurtured on the isolated farms where those settlers made their homes. 

Beginning in the late seventeenth century, immigrants from Switzerland, the Palatinate, and the Upper Rhine regions of Germany arrived in Pennsylvania. 

For the most part, they were peasants, small farmers, and artisans. The Pennsylvania Germans were industrious people; they cleared the heavily wooded lands and tilled the soil to establish a new life in America. 

Agriculture was the major industry, but as society became more firmly rooted, farmer-craftsmen turned some of their energies to producing and decorating the many articles of daily life. 

By isolating themselves from outside influences, the Pennsylvania Germans were not assimilated into the mainstream of American culture until this century. Thus, for over two hundred years, Pennsylvania German (Dutch) art flourished to become an important element of the American folk art tradition.

When I carved the frame for Joyce's mirror (above) I had no idea that I would ultimately discover my Pennsylvania Dutch roots over two decades later.  

Do you think DNA has anything to do for my interest in Pennsylvania Dutch art in the 1970s?

Who are the Pennsylvania Dutch?

The Pennsylvania Dutch are a cultural group formed by early German-speaking immigrants to Pennsylvania.

Many of these immigrants originated in what is today southwestern Germany (Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Württemberg).

Historically they have spoken the dialect of German known as Pennsylvania German or Pennsylvania Dutch. In this context, the word "Dutch" does not refer to the Dutch people (Nederlanders) or their descendants, but to Deitsch or Deutsch (German).

The Krefeld Germans

We are descended from one of thirteen Mennonite families from Krefeld, Germany who settled in Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1683.

The Krefeld, Germans arrived on board the galleon Concord. The ship is also known as the "German Mayflower". The Concord took sail on July 6, 1683, in Rotterdam under Captain William Jeffries with 57 passengers. The journey took 74 days to reach Philadelphia (Germantown) on October 6, 1683 (which was declared German-American Day in 1983).

Our Krefeld Ancestor Reynier Theissen (Tyson)

Reinert Tisen also known as Reynier Theissen or Tyson, our 8th great-grandfather, was one of the The Krefeld, Germans who arrived on the Concord.

He was the 4th great grandfather to President Theodore Roosevelt.  See:

Our Lineage:

Reynier Theissen (Tyson) (1659 - 1745) -- 8th great-grandfather

Mathias Tyson (1686 - 1727) son of Reynier Theissen (Tyson)

Margaret Tyson (1709 - 1752) daughter of Mathias Tyson

Joshua Hallowell (1751 - 1835) son of Margaret Tyson

Joseph Hallowell (1785 - 1872) son of Joshua Hallowell

Lt Rifford Randolph Hallowell (1816 - 1864) son of Joseph Hallowell

Amanda Merrio Hallowell (1842 - 1873) daughter of Lt Rifford Randolph Hallowell

Lillian Amanda Pierce (1867 - 1957) daughter of Amanda Merrio Hallowell

Frank Jackson Bailey (1886 - 1968) son of Lillian Amanda Pierce -- my grandfather

Monday, November 7, 2016

Was granddad descended from William the Conqueror?

The answer is a resounding maybe!

In my opinion all family history gets a bit murky once you are beyond the earliest census records (United States 1790 and England 1841) and parish church records (about 1538 in England, and as far back as 1303 in France).

At some point you have to accept accounts in "history books" written by someone who may have had a bias slant on the stories outcome.

It has been claimed every English monarch who followed William, including Queen Elizabeth II, is considered a descendant of the Norman-born king.

More importantly, many genealogists believe that approximately 25 percent of England's population today is also distantly related to him, as are countless Americans with British ancestry.

All that said, it's fun to consider we might actually be a distant relative of William the Conqueror.

One of the more interesting facts about William the Conqueror is that he spoke no English when he ascended the throne.  Like most nobles of his time, he was illiterate.

Thanks to the Norman invasion, French was spoken in England’s courts for centuries and completely transformed the English language, infusing it with new words.

1066 The Battle of Hastings
(excerpts from Wikipedia)

In 1066, England’s childless king, Edward the Confessor, died leaving multiple claimants from across Europe vying to succeed him on the throne.

It was thought that Edward, whose mother was from Normandy, had years earlier promised the throne to his first cousin once removed, William, the Duke of Normandy.

However before he drew his final breath on January 5, 1066, it was claimed that Edward made a deathbed conversion and specified his brother-in-law Harold Godwinson, the Earl of Wessex, was to be his successor.

Harold was crowned king shortly after Edward's death, but faced invasions by William of Normandie, his own brother Tostig and the Norwegian King Harald Hardrada (Harold III of Norway).

Hardrada and Tostig defeated a hastily gathered army of Englishmen at the Battle of Fulford on 20 September 1066, and were in turn defeated by Harold at the Battle of Stamford Bridge five days later.

The deaths of Tostig and Hardrada at Stamford Bridge left William as Harold's only serious opponent. While Harold and his forces were recovering, William landed his invasion forces in the south of England at Pevensey on 28 September 1066 and established a beachhead for his conquest of the kingdom. Harold was forced to march south swiftly, gathering forces as he went.

The English army (7,000 strong) was composed almost entirely of infantry and had few archers, whereas only about half of William's invading force (10,000 strong) was infantry, the rest split equally between cavalry and archers.

Harold appears to have tried to surprise William, but scouts found his army and reported its arrival to William, who marched from Hastings to the battlefield to confront Harold.

The battle lasted from about 9 am to dusk. Early efforts of the invaders to break the English battle lines had little effect; therefore, the Normans adopted the tactic of pretending to flee in panic and then turning on their pursuers. ,

Harold's death, probably near the end of the battle, led to the retreat and defeat of most of his army.

William was crowned as king on Christmas Day 1066.

Our Lineage from William the Conqueror

The following lineage was pieced together with the help of ancestry (dot) com records supplied by many hundreds of researchers:

William the Conqueror (1024 - 1087) -- 27th great-grandfather

King Henry de Normandie I (1068 - 1135) -- son of William the Conqueror

Matilda England (1102 - 1167) -- daughter of King Henry de Normandie I

Henry II Plantagenet (1133 - 1189) -- son of Matilda England

King John Lackland Plantagenet (1167 - 1216) -- son of Henry II Plantagenet

Henry III Plantagenet (1207 - 1272) -- son of King John Lackland Plantagenet

Edmund Crouchback Plantagenet (1245 - 1296) -- son of Henry III Plantagenet

Henry 3rd Earl of Lancaster Plantagenet (1281 - 1345) -- son of Edmund Crouchback Plantagenet

Eleanor Countess of Arundel Plantagenet (1311 - 1372) -- daughter of Henry 3rd Earl of Lancaster Plantagenet

Richard Fitzalan III, Earl of Arundel, Earl of Surrey (1346 - 1397) -- son of Eleanor Countess of Arundel Plantagenet

Elizabeth Duchess Norfolk Baroness of Fitz Alan (1366 - 1425) -- daughter of Richard Fitzalan III, Earl of Arundel, Earl of Surrey

Lady Joan Baroness Stanley Goushill (1401 - 1460) -- daughter of Elizabeth Duchess Norfolk Baroness of Fitz Alan

Katherine Stanley (1430 - 1498) -- daughter of Lady Joan Baroness Stanley Goushill

Christoffer Savage (1473 - 1513) -- son of Katherine Stanley

Richard Savage (1520 - 1551) -- son of Christoffer Savage

Susan Savage (1550 - 1576) -- daughter of Richard Savage

George French (1570 - 1647) -- son of Susan Savage

Ann French (1610 - 1669) -- daughter of George French

George Mason (1629 - 1686) -- son of Ann French

Richard Mason (1670 - 1730) -- son of George Mason (immigrant ancestor)

William Mason (1692 - 1745) -- son of Richard Mason

Margaret Mason (1725 - 1752) -- daughter of William Mason

James Boyd (1757 - 1791) -- son of Margaret Mason

James Boyd (1783 - 1854) -- son of James Boyd (end of my sourced records)

Valentine Boyd (1811 - 1870) -- son of James Boyd

Sophia Boyd (1836 - 1908) -- daughter of Valentine Boyd

David Jackson Bailey (1865 - 1949) -- son of Sophia Boyd

Frank Jackson Bailey (1886 - 1968) -- son of David Jackson Bailey -- our grandfather

The Battle of 1066 as seen in "The Animated Bayeux Tapestry."

The Bayeux Tapestry is an embroidered cloth nearly 230 feet long and 20 inches tall, which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England concerning William, Duke of Normandy, and Harold, Earl of Wessex, later King of England, and culminating in the Battle of Hastings.

A well done animated account of the Bayeux Tapestry and the history of the Battle of Hastings can be seen here:

Animated Bayeux Tapestry Credits:

The Animated Bayeux Tapestry was created as a student project while at Goldsmiths College. Just as the historic original embroidery does, the animation depicts the lead up to to the Norman Invasion of Britain in 1066. Starts about halfway through the original work at the appearance of Halley's Comet and concludes at the Battle of Hastings. Marc Sylvan redid the soundtrack to include original music and sound effects.