The Métis Nation emerged from the union of voyageurs of European descent and Native women during the fur-trading era in Western Canada. It developed its own culture with elements taken from both the European and Aboriginal cultures. Until the middle of the 19th century, the main concern of the Métis was simply to survive. Their way of life was based on two economic activities: hunting bison and the fur trade. Although there was little leisure time, many Métis sports and games of skill developed out of everyday survival skills. For example, sharp-shooting, wrestling, running and horse races honed skills essential for hunting, defending the community or working in the fur trade. The Métis Nation emerged from the union of voyageurs of European descent and Native women during the fur-trading era in Western Canada. It developed its own culture with elements taken from both the European and Aboriginal cultures. Until the middle of the 19th century, the main concern of the Métis was simply to survive. Their way of life was based on two economic activities: hunting bison and the fur trade. Although there was little leisure time, many Métis sports and games of skill developed out of everyd Read More
The Métis Nation emerged from the union of voyageurs of European descent and Native women during the fur-trading era in Western Canada. It developed its own culture with elements taken from both the European and Aboriginal cultures. Until the middle of the 19th century, the main concern of the Métis was simply to survive. Their way of life was based on two economic activities: hunting bison and the fur trade. Although there was little leisure time, many Métis sports and games of skill developed out of everyday survival skills. For example, sharp-shooting, wrestling, running and horse races honed skills essential for hunting, defending the community or working in the fur trade. The Métis Nation emerged from the union of voyageurs of European descent and Native women during the fur-trading era in Western Canada. It developed its own culture with elements taken from both the European and Aboriginal cultures. Until the middle of the 19th century, the main concern of the Métis was simply to survive. Their way of life was based on two economic activities: hunting bison and the fur trade. Although there was little leisure time, many Métis sports and games of skill developed out of everyday survival skills. For example, sharp-shooting, wrestling, running and horse races honed skills essential for hunting, defending the community or working in the fur trade.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Drawing

Different cultures met at the Forks during the Fur Trade Era.

Drawing by Peter Rindisbacher
c. 1821
© Provincial Archives of Manitoba


Drawing

Pictoresque Canada "At the Portage". Trapper Festivals and the Métis Voyageur Games are based on the traditional activities of the fur trade.

Provincial Archives of Manitoba
Canadian Heritage Information Network

© Provincial Archives of Manitoba


Horn

Powder horn used to store gun powder. Belonged to Pierre Delorme. Engraved in wooden plug are his initials "P. D." and the date "1857". Horn, wood, metal, leather. (Cat. #: TFT-90, Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum collection).

Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum collection

TFT-90
© Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum


During the 19th century, the Métis competed against voyageurs and people of the First Nations. The competitions tested skills acquired through work in the fur trade, and were based on agility, strength, courage, speediness and stamina. These included running and snowshoe races, jumping, throwing a weight and tests of strength. Races carrying heavy backpacks of furs or merchandise weighing hundreds of kilograms replicated their efforts at the portage. Success in tests of strength, stamina and dexterity was rewarded. Teams of Métis, First Nations and voyageur canoeists or York boatmen would compete against one another in regattas that offered serious competition and at the same time provided a good reason to organize some revelry around the event.
During the 19th century, the Métis competed against voyageurs and people of the First Nations. The competitions tested skills acquired through work in the fur trade, and were based on agility, strength, courage, speediness and stamina. These included running and snowshoe races, jumping, throwing a weight and tests of strength. Races carrying heavy backpacks of furs or merchandise weighing hundreds of kilograms replicated their efforts at the portage. Success in tests of strength, stamina and dexterity was rewarded. Teams of Métis, First Nations and voyageur canoeists or York boatmen would compete against one another in regattas that offered serious competition and at the same time provided a good reason to organize some revelry around the event.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Belt

Championship walking belt won by Joseph Jourdain of St. Vital, Manitoba circa 1877. Leather, metal, silver, cotton thread.

Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum collection

EE-150
© Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum


Strap

Strap that the Voyageurs wore over their foreheads to steady or support the load carried on their backs for portaging. Late 19th century. Leather, cotton thread.

Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum collection

TFT-92
© Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum


Snowshoes

Snowshoes, handmade by Daniel "Bâton" Carrière of St. Charles, Manitoba, circa 1880, in the Cree style. Wood - ash, rawhide, wire.

Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum collection

EE-155
© Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Describe the origins and lifestyle of the Métis Nation;
  • Describe the games of skill played by the Métis and their relation to their activities for work and survival.

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