Collection MSG 1108 - Coppenrath Collection of Voyageur Contracts

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Coppenrath Collection of Voyageur Contracts

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the creators of the collection.

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Collection

Reference code

CA RBD MSG 1108

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  • approximately 1732-1821 (Creation)

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Physical description

12 cm of textual records (52 documents)

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Custodial history

Acquired as a gift from Jane and Robert Coppenrath in 2005. The documents were collected by the Coppenraths during the 1970s and 1980s.

Scope and content

The Coppenrath Collection of Voyageurs Contracts for the North West Company partners contains 52 contracts for the period from approximately 1800 to 1821. These document the terms of engagement for men going into the North West . Voyageur contracts are of particular interest for study of the fur trade, Canada's first major industry, because they document the conditions of employment for many of the journeymen ("engagés") involved in the trade, both those who worked on the Ottawa River and those who "wintered" in the North West. The contracts are dated from 1800 to 1821 with printed forms from before 1800 being used in some cases. A significant number of outfitters are included namely the firm of McTavish, McGillivrays & Co. with various partners including John Ogilvy and Thomas Thain, Pierre de Rocheblave and earlier partnership – McTavish, Frobisher & Co. As well, there are contracts with lesser known outfitters. These contracts provide not only the names of the "engagés" but usually their place of residence and the conditions and terms of their employment.

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  • French

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Associated materials

Voyageur Contracts Database. Centre du patrimoine. Société historique de Saint-Boniface.
North West Company Voyageur Contracts. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

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Sources consulted

Some of the voyageur contracts in the Coppenrath Collection are documented in Lawrence Lande, 'The Development of the Voyageur Contract, 1686-1821' (Montreal, 1989). The Lande classification number is provided in the item descriptions; all references to Lande derive refer to this work.

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