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The fur brigades were convoys of canoes, dog sleds or horses used to transport supplies, trading goods and furs in the fur trade industry. Much of it consisted of natives, fur trappers and fur traders who traveled between their home trading posts and a larger Hudson's Bay Company or Northwest Company post in order to supply the inland post with goods and supply the coastal post with furs. Travel was usually done on the rivers by canoe or, in certain prairie situations, by horse. For example, they might travel to Hudson Bay or James Bay from their inland home territories. This pattern was most prevalent during the early 19th century.
One common fur brigade was by canoe, conducted by voyageurs or others. Downstream loads consisting mainly of furs. Upstream loads consisted of trading goods and the ammunition, traps and various other supplies needed for the next winters trapping season. These brigades were usually an annual event.
By the 1820s the Hudson's Bay company had several bridages traveling distinct routes.
The Red River brigade transported furs and goods between the Red River Settlement and Norway House and between Norway House and York Factory. The Portage la Loche brigade was recruited at Red River to transport goods to Norway House and thence northwest via the Churchill River system to Portage la Loche, where cargo was exchanged with the Athabaska brigade before returning to Norway House and finally to Red River. The third brigade, the Saskatchewan brigade, was recruited in the region of Fort Edmonton, trip-ping to Norway House and York Factory before returning to the Upper Saskatchewan.
Each of these brigades had a nickname, supposedly derived from their dietary habits. The Red River "tripmen" were called the "Taureaux", named after the pemmican made from and older bull bison. The Portage la Loche brigade's tripmen were called the "Poissons-blancs" (whitefish) after a tough, nearly-inedible fish, and the Saskatchewan brigade the "Blaireaux" (badgers). The brigades were intensely rivalous and would frequently stage fistfights between their "champions" to defend the brigade's honour.
- Canadian canoe routes
- North American fur trade
- York Factory Express
- Portage La Loche Brigade
- Hudson's Bay Brigade Trail
- Dalles des Morts
- Foster, John E. (1985). "Paulet Paul: Métis or "House Indian" Folk-Hero?". Manitoba History (Manitoba Historical Society) 9: Spring. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
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