La Chasse-Galerie & The Forgotten Voyageurs

Erica Calhoon

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In our next installment of our series on Quebec Environmental History, which features the work my students in McGill’s ENVR 380 class, is brought to you by Erica Calhoon. Interested in the folklore of Quebec, Erica chose to relate her research on the voyageurs by examining one of their most celebrated legends and conveying her research in the form of a picture book, for which she did the illustrations.

Describing the project, Erica writes,

“For my final research project for Quebec Environmental History, I created a picture book about the voyageurs of the Canadian fur trade. The book’s purpose is to inform the reader about the voyageur population that is often forgotten in history books due to the lack of textual evidence. The first half of the book retells the French-Canadian folk story of “La Chasse-Galerie.” This section is necessary because folklore, though not factual, is important for understanding cultural representations.
The second section of the book describes the history of the voyageurs. There is a focus on how they interacted with their environment, and their significance in Canadian history. All of the book’s illustrations were homemade, created by sketching, copying, reinforcing of poorly-copied lines, and then water coloring. While this book’s text is not incredibly extensive, its integration of folklore with academic information and pictorial representations make it a powerful tool to convey the voyageur’s forgotten history to a wide audience.”

Setting Erica’s drawings to music, the video below showcases her work in an accessible way, so please enjoy her wonderful piece, “La Chasse-Galerie & The Forgotten History of the Voyageurs.”

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I am a Senior Lecturer in North American History at Leeds Beckett University. My research interests are in transnational environmental health and contamination, and I always seek to blend historical research with public engagement. My monograph, A Town Called Asbestos: Environmental Change, Health, and Resilience in a Resource Community was published by UBC Press in 2016.

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