The Voyageurs

The Voyageurs were legendary canoeists who traded between the cities on the eastern seaboard of Canada and the vast interior. They would paddle for 14 hours a day or more, with as many as twelve men in a birch-bark canoe, singing to keep up their spirits and a rhythm of nearly a paddle stroke a second. Journeys could last six weeks one way. Each man was responsible for as much as 70 kilos of equipment (which he had to carry at each portage around a rapid). They voyageurs brought mainly beaver pelts from the interior (to be sold for clothing and export to Europe) and in the other direction they carried what that was needed by the hunters inland, everything from the mail to metal goods and cartridges for hunters.

James Henderson of A Life of Adventure followed their trail along the French River to Georgian Bay off Lake Huron (a stretch of nearly 70 miles that the voyageurs would canoe in a single day) for the Financial Times's magazine How to Spend it. You can read Canoeing in Canada here.