Reading log #3 Megan Mckinlay
“Nagging Wife” Revisited: Women and The Fur Trade in New France by Jan Noel and “A Fille du Rio’s Passage” by Adrienne Leduc outline the role women played in the Fur Trade during the 1600 – 1700’s. Women would travel over seas for the opportunities given by the new world; they were a very crucial part in the Fur trade. They worked with men in running businesses and were involved in politics. They were intelligent people who persevered through tough trials for a better life.
Most women in Canada in the 1600-1700’s played large roles in the Fur Trade. Often a wife would take care of many aspects of her husband’s businesses. Marie-Anne La Marque was one of these women. “She exhausted her assets in support of the post, which required keeping up the commanders house, maintaining the native alliances, and sustaining the forts defenses.” (1). Contrary to beliefs of the era it was not uncommon to see a wife working along side her husband for the betterment of his business. Many widows would even run their late husbands’ or their own businesses. This evidence opens the mind of modern society to show women were not just house maids.
Women had voices and opinions which they used to get what they needed. There are many accounts of women going to court over land disputes, and the like. Louise Denys de la Ronde was one of them. After her husband died she went to French court to petition for family retention of her husband’s trading post and succeeded “retaining a substantial share in the post for years.”(2). Many women like her succeeded in these legal disputes. These women were not defenseless and took care of their families and cured income without male dependency. Louise Denys de la Ronde died with assets totaling to 46,000 livres. Women were also sought after for government advisers. Marguerite Bouat “gave the French government pointed but accurate advice about the perils of monopoly, and the likelihood that it would drive Canadians to trade illegally with the English.” (3)
There were many challenges for the women immigrating to Canada, but the possibility of a better life helped them through. The Fille du Roi’s were women, usually orphans, sent to Canada to marry men in the fur trade. Many died during the voyage over because of the harsh conditions. The food rations “[were] totally lacking in fresh vegetables. If one of [them] became ill, there was no treatment.” (4) The women who went through this were strong and reaped the befits even though Canada was not very forgiving. Jeanne Faucheux is one of these women. She and her friend stayed together by marrying men who were business partners. Jeanne married in 1682 and died in 1721 meaning she survived 39 years in Canadas harsh conditions. Many women like her led very successful lives and were not confined to homemaking but worked with their husbands to further their businesses.
- Jan Noel, “Nagging Wife’ Revisited: Women and the Fur Trade in New France,” French Colonial History, 7 (2006), 47
- Ibid. 47
- Ibid. 49
- Adrienne Leduc, “A Fille du Roi’s Passage,” Beaver 81, Issue 1 (Feb/Mar 2001), p. 20 para. 8