Avant: bowman or lead voyageur of the canoe.
Babillement: set of clothes which was sometimes given to the NWC's servants is a reward for special services.
Battle of Seven Oaks: Military encounter that took place on 19 June 1816 between a party of 60 Métis and Canadians in the service of the NWC and 22 HBC employees.
Biscuit: term referring to the "pain biscuit", bread that has been cooked twice in order to render it more durable during long trips. From the French "bis", meaning twice, and "cuit", meaning cooked.
Bourgeois: word essentially meaning aristocrat. The NWC bourgeois were Montreal Agents and partners, wintering partners and experienced clerks. On a trip, the bourgeois was the partner in charge of several canoe brigades.
Brigade: fleet of 3 to 6 canoes.
Canadien: at the time of the NWC and before, this was a term meaning "French-Canadian" or Canadian of French ancestry. In the 1930s, it was replaced with Canadien-Français, and in the 1970s, with "Québécois".
Canot de Maître: Montreal canoe used to navigate from Lachine to Grand Portage or Fort William.
Canot du Nord: North canoe used on the smaller lakes and rivers to bring furs to Grand Portage or Fort William from the interior.
Canot léger: small canoe used to relay messages and transport important people between posts in the interior. Also called "canot batard".
Capot: hooded winter coat inspired by the "justaucorps" or coats worn by men in the 18th century.
Castor gras: beaver skin worn by an Indian for at least a year. This skin had lost its long guard hairs due to constant wearing and friction with the body and was considered quite valuable by hatters (also known as "coat beaver").
Castor sec: dried beaver skin immediately traded by an Indian without wearing it (also known as "parchment beaver").
Ceinture fléchée: colorful sash attached around a voyageur's waist to hold up his knife and other important items. Identity symbol of French-Canadians.
Clerk: apprentice partner in charge of the actual packaging of trade goods or pelts in 90 pound (40 kilos) bundles in Montreal or in the interior.
Coat-beaver: a beaver skin worn by an Indian for at least a year. This skin has lost its long guard hairs due to constant wearing and friction with the body and is considered quite valuable by hatters. Also known as "castor-gras".
Commis: clerk, apprentice partner in charge of the actual packaging of trade goods and pelts in 90 pound (40 kilos) bundles in Montreal or in the interior.
Commission merchant (London firms): located in London, he provided the capital that allowed the export trade goods to North America. These men were major suppliers of the NWC and other partnerships.
Congé: actual term for a licence allowing a voyageur to enter Indian country for the purpose of conducting trade. This term was used more frequently during the French regime than it was in the NWC era.
Corvée: statute-labour that voyageurs were obliged to provide during their contract.
Country-born: people of mixed English-Scottish and Native ancestry. The term Métis eventually came to identify them as well as those from a mixed Native and French ancestry.
Décharge: stop where only a portion of a canoe's load was carried overland while the rest, including the canoe, was pulled across an obstruction.
Demidécharge: stop where half the canoe was unloaded and the rapid is forced.
Double équipement: the double of a defined quantity of clothing and other supplies stipulated in a wintering voyageur's contract as part of his pay.
écorce: spare piece of birch bark placed in each canoe for the purpose of repairs.
En dérouine: trading with Indians while living with them in their winter camps.
Engagé: voyageur or wage contractor of the NWC who paddled canoes and carried bundles. Engagé is another word for voyageur and means "hired employee".
Engagement: contract signed before a notary public by a voyageur.
équipement: quantity of clothing, tobacco, and other articles stipulated in a voyageur's contract as part of his pay. The basic équipement included 1 blanket, 1 shirt, and 1 pair of trousers.
Fur-wool: the underlayer of barbed hairs found on most animal skins. The beaver's fur-wool is best used to make felt hats.
Gens de la Baie d'Urson: expression used by NWC voyageurs to designate the employees and people of the HBC.
Gens du Petit Nord: expression used by NWC voyageurs to designate the employees and people of the HBC.
Gens du Nord-Ouest: expression used by NWC voyageurs to designate the partners and employees of the NWC.
Gouvernail: steersman and second ranking voyageur in a canoe.
Grand Nord: vast area west and north of lake Winnipeg.
Hivernant: wintering voyageur who spent 2 to5 years trading in the interior.
Homme du Nord: north men, wintering voyageur.
Hyvernant: see Hivernant
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La Vielle: expression used by voyageurs to identify the wind, or the "old woman of the wind".
Les Anglois: expression used by NWC voyageurs to designate the employees and people of the HBC.
Lining: navigation technique used when the current is too fast to paddle against and when the shoreline is free of snags. A line of 60 to 100 feet long is attached to the full canoe and pulled from shore while the steersman and gear remain in the canoe.
Little Potties: a corruption of "les petits"; a term used by the NWC to label their rivals from the XY Company.
Mangeur de lard: Pork-eater, a summer man or voyageur lacking experience.
Marriage à la façon du Pays: expression meaning marriage in the customs of the country, that is, marriage between Europeans and Natives without European-based religious and legal ceremonies.
Métis: person of mixed ancestry. At first, "Métis" designated the offsprings of French-Canadians and Native women while the so-called "country born" were known as the children English or Scottish fathers and Native mothers. The term Métis eventually came to identify both groups.
Milieu: middleman voyageur in the canoe.
Montreal agents: the agents took care of importing trade goods and forwarding them inland with the help of hired clerks and voyageurs.
Montreal pedlars: term used by the HBC to label their rivals in Montreal.
NW Twist: the tobacco brand of the NWC, made in Albany.
Outfit: the annual cycle of the trade. The beginning of a new outfit started with the returning canoe brigades to Montreal and Lachine in the fall.
Parchment beaver: a dried beaver skin immediately traded by an Indian without wearing it. Also known as "castor-sec".
Partner: the highest rank among traders, includes the groups of men who owned the NWC and who were provided shares in the concern. The partners in Montreal advanced the trade goods to the interior for barter.
Petit Nord: area which borders on the south of lake Superior and on the west by lake Winnipeg, extending to the north unith Hudson bay.
Pièce: pack of 40 kilos or 90 pounds of either trade goods of furs carried by voyageurs.
Pipe: break during a canoe trek which allowed voyageurs to light up a pipe. Distances between posts and waterways came to be measured in pipes.
Plus: common unit of value, which was the equivalent of one good beaver skin.
Poling: canoe navigation technique which is used when the shoreline presents several snags. Poling is accomplished with the help of a long 8 to 10 feet pole, without emptying the craft.
Pork-eater: summer voyageur.
Portage: stop where both the canoe and its load were carried overland.
Posé: stop along a portage trail. Portages were measured by the number of posés.
Pot au Beurre: name given to the prison for refractory voyageurs at Fort William.
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Sewell Newhouse: manufacturer who began the steel-trap industry.
Traineau: sled made of thin board, 10 or 12 inches wide and 8 to 10 feet long. It was bent up at the end, by which it was dragged on snow or ice.
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Vermilion: brilliant red pigment made from cinnabar used by Indians to color their skin. European vermilion replaced the ocre and other sources of paint pigments used by Natives in pre-contact times.
Wintering partner: the partner who carried on the trade in the interior.
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