In September the students taking the class on Quebec Literature and Cinema were given the opportunity to visit the National Historic site of Fort Vancouver in the State of Washington.
Fort Vancouver was used as headquarters of the Hudson’s Bay Company in the North West region. This company was specialized in the fur trade with Europe and the Northern Pacific region played a crucial role in this business as it was very rich in furs. The history of Fort Vancouver is relevant to the study of Quebec history because many trappers came all the way from Quebec to work in that area. Actually, the head of the Fort, John McLoughlin was from Quebec himself. Moreover, the living conditions experienced by people in the Fort were really similar to the rough conditions that were faced by people living in the wilderness of French-speaking Canada during the 19th century.
The tour took us around various important places of the Fort such as the Blacksmith Shop, the Fur Warehouse, the Kitchen and many others so that we were able to get a fair insight of what the life of a fur trader was like back then. It was extremely interesting for us to compare that lifestyle to the one that is described in 19th century Quebec novels and to realize that they were really similar. The field trip to Fort Vancouver was thus an enriching experience that allowed us to get a better and more concrete grasp on the culture that we are studying in class!
Throughout numerous exhibitions, one could see notable presence of French names – the baker for the Chief of Fort, school-age children who resided in the Fort post – Hudson Bay Company, and the traders. Washington and Oregon’s ties with Canada and overall – French Canada were strong in the times of HBC’s reign in North America.