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By G.P. deT. Glazebrook

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Discours: (1968-1992)

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They used light paddles and rapid strokes; onc traveller counted forty strokes a minute and another a stroke each second. Whenever possible square sails were used, and these were mounted on one mast, or on two set side by side. Birch canoes could not be used in rough weathe r on the lakes, for it was dangerous to the cargo and crew and what was a more pressing cause - liable to strain the frail craft. The experts of the crew were the bows man and the steersman. The former was the director of operations in running rapids, while the steersman invariably stood up in his place at the stern and steered with a long padd le, not attempting to keep stroke with the others.

From Lake Winnipeg long rivers offered routes to tbe great western country. The Saskatchewan, with its two branches, gave access to an enormous tract of country. It was, however, principally after 1783 that trade was organized in this western area. In the meantime plenty of furs were found in the region north-west and west of Lake Winnipeg, and though the country around Detroit was becoming denuded, it was still an important post. Michilimackinac rivalled the Grand Portage in tbis period, and was often the starting point of western expeditions via Green Bay.

The discovery of the northern and western limits of the continent was to be left to a later age, but much of the western land was revealed before the French colony was overthrown. The struggle to control the western part of the continent resulted in a diversion of energy from the colony on the St. Lawrence that was regarded with some alarm by the most responsible officials. Efforts to control the exit by means of a licensing system were ineffective, since the majority of those engaged in tradin g were illegal traders known as coureurs de bOis, without licenses, and all auempts to restrain them were in vain.

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