Local re-enactor Randy Bellamy will appear at the HCTPL Main Library as a 17th-century French courier du bois at 6:30 pm on Monday, August 25. Bellamy, who has had multiple sclerosis for 20 years, and has been a re-enactor for 23 years, often portrays his courier du bois, or Great Lakes fur trader and trapper, character at local and regional historical events such as the Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival in Huntington, and the Five Medals Gathering in New Paris, Indiana.
In the 17th century, the French-language term courier du bois or “runner of the woods” was used to describe a independent entrepreneurial French-Canadian woodsman who voyaged into the wilderness of New France and the interior of North America and engaged in (often illegal) trading with Native Americans, usually trading various European items for furs, especially beaver pelts. The term is often confused with voyageurs who, rather than being unlicensed entrepreneurs, were the canoe travel workers for licensed fur traders. The most prominent Coureurs des bois were also explorers and gained fame as such.
One 17th century French officer provided this description:
“The pedlers call’d Coureurs de Bois export from hence every year several canows (canoes) full of Merchandise which they dispose of among all the Nations of the Continent by way of exchange for Beaver-Skins. I saw twenty-five or thirty of these Canows return with heavy Cargoes; each Canow was managed by two or three men and carry’d twenty hundred weight, forty packs of Beaver Skins which are worth a hundred Crowns apiece. These canows have been a year or 18 months out.”
This event is free and open to all ages. No registration is required. The Main Library is located at 255 West Park Drive, Huntington. For more information, contact the Huntington City-Township Public Library at 260-356-0824, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.