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Highlights Archives

Exploring the Lake Superior Fur Trade


A fur-trade re-enactor paints scenes of the fur trade using the same techniques and materials that itinerant 18th-century artists would have used to visually document the fur trade.

A hand-selected group of a dozen skilled living-history re-enactors will descend on Madeline Island on Saturday and Sunday, July 20–21, to relive and demonstrate the role of the fur trade, and the resulting interaction of European voyageurs with Native Americans, affected the lifestyles of both cultures. Connecting Cultures: Exploring the Lake Superior Fur Trade is one of Madeline Island Museum's most popular events. Visitors mingle with re-enactors skilled in various facets of life during the heyday of the fur trade, from hauling trade goods and furs to and from Montreal and Lake Superior to making metal pots and ornamental glass beads.

Frontier Artistry and Expertise

One of the re-enactors who visitors to the Connecting Cultures event will meet is a glass-bead maker who handcrafts trade beads, using the same materials and techniques common during the era of the fur trade. He's also an expert on historic trade beads and other fur trade materials, and he invites anyone who feels they may have found historic items dating to the 18th century to bring those items to the event for identification.

Another re-enactor is an artist who paints fur-trade scenes using authentic materials and paints that he mixes himself, using raw materials that would have been available to itinerant 18th-century artists who documented fur-trade scenes on canvass. Visitors will learn how the fur trade changed the lifestyles of Native Americans by introducing them to brass and copper pots in lieu of birchbark pots and how wool and cotton cloth began to replace buckskin as the favored materials for making clothing. Other re-enactors are women who portray the role women played in the fur trade.

If You Go

For complete details on admission, hours, accessibility, location and directions, see our visitor information pages.

:: Posted July 18, 2013

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