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Birth of the Canoe Brigades

“The late Samuel Cannashish participated in bringing supplies to Neoskweskau. So did my father. They knew the best route to take according to the water level and current at different times of the year.”

- Harry Moses

Canoe brigades were the means by which the HBC supplied its inland posts. The canoe brigade tradition began after Rupert House became the new trading centre of the region, in 1818. For the next 130 years, the brigades provided an important source of employment for the people. In the early days, Caumutchissit, patriarch of the Moses family, established a reputation as one of the best voyageurs.

Cree youth canoe brigades on the Eastmain River.  Youth canoe brigades have become an important  summer activity in Cree communities.

Cree youth canoe brigades on the Eastmain River. Youth canoe brigades have become an important summer activity in Cree communities.

Trading posts supplied from Rupert House by the canoe brigades.

Mishtaapaaushtikuu. In the twentieth  century, because of their deep knowledge  of the land, canoe brigaders outfitting  Neoskweskau by-passed these dangerous  rapids, which extended for 13.5 kilometres  along the Eastmain River.

Mishtaapaaushtikuu. In the twentieth century, because of their deep knowledge of the land, canoe brigaders outfitting Neoskweskau by-passed these dangerous rapids, which extended for 13.5 kilometres along the Eastmain River.