Voyageur songs

Paddle to the rythm of voyageurs with these 18 songs

Why did Voyageurs sing so much while paddling canoes?

Paddling a canoe with a dozen voyageurs takes lots of coordination. To stay synchronized, voyageurs would constantly sing and paddle to the beat of the music.

shooting the rapids image

Photo credit: Frances Anne Hopkins. Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, C-02774k

In her book, Making the Voyageur World, Carolyn Podruchny notes that “Voyageurs sang 3 kinds of songs: romantic and melodic French ballads, lamentations for tragedies that occured to fellow voyageurs, and everyday work songs, composed on the spot and constantly changing.”

Johann Georg Kohl

Photo credit: Frances Anne Hopkins. Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, C-02774k

The German explorer Johann Georg Kohl, who travelled to the Lake Superior region in 1850, noted that  “The Voyageurs accompany and embroider with song nearly everything they do — their fishery, their heavy tuggage at the oar, their social meetings at the campfire, and many a jest, many a comic incident, many a moving strain, which, if regarded closely, will not endure criticism, there serves to dispel ennui.”

Let us rejoice our hearts and bring life back to these songs. We’ve compiled a list of 18 different voyageur songs along with lyrics and music notes in some instances.

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Why did Voyageurs sing so much while paddling canoes?

Paddling a canoe with a dozen voyageurs takes lots of coordination. To stay synchronized, voyageurs would constantly sing and paddle to the beat of the music.

shooting the rapids image

Photo credit: Frances Anne Hopkins. Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, C-02774k

In her book, Making the Voyageur World, Carolyn Podruchny notes that “Voyageurs sang 3 kinds of songs: romantic and melodic French ballads, lamentations for tragedies that occured to fellow voyageurs, and everyday work songs, composed on the spot and constantly changing.”

Johann Georg Kohl

Photo credit: Frances Anne Hopkins. Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, C-02774k

The German explorer Johann Georg Kohl, who travelled to the Lake Superior region in 1850, noted that  “The Voyageurs accompany and embroider with song nearly everything they do — their fishery, their heavy tuggage at the oar, their social meetings at the campfire, and many a jest, many a comic incident, many a moving strain, which, if regarded closely, will not endure criticism, there serves to dispel ennui.”

Let us rejoice our hearts and bring life back to these songs. We’ve compiled a list of 18 different voyageur songs along with lyrics and music notes in some instances.

Voyageurs songs



img01

Check out our Boutique