Otter Lake

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A Passage for the Voyageurs (1)

Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec. Numéro catalogue Iris : 0003816241

The shores of Lac à la Loutre were cultivated by local natives in the 16th century. With the arrival of the French and the growing fur trade in the 17th century, the lake became an increasingly important throughway for the coureurs and voyageurs. The coureurs de bois, or in English, woodsmen, were renegade fur traders. They were usually young and adventurous French colonizers who dared to wade into the hostile Iroquois territories on the hunt for beaver pelts. Most of the fur at this time was supplied by natives, but those willing to venture into the forests beyond the settlements could turn high profits at the trading posts.

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A Passage for the Voyageurs (2)


By the late 17th century there were so many coureurs supplying furs that the market became inundated. In response, French authorities instituted a licensing system that would control the influx.The newly licensed trappers were required to affiliate with a trading post. They became known as voyageurs. Because of the unnavigable rapids in the St. Laurent River, the coureurs and voyageurs were forced to take their canoes over land. The easiest way to continue over land and past the rapids with their canoes and cargo was via Lac à la Loutre.