What are the origins of the Bois-Brûlés?

What are the origins of the Bois-Brûlés?

This blog is about the Bois-Brûlés, a Canadian indigenous peoples.  They are a fascinating people with a rich history, despite the fact that little is known about them. What is the story behind them? What information do we have about them? In this piece, I'll address these and other questions. Take a look out!

Who are the Bois-Brûlés, and where are they from?

The Bois-Brûlés were a group of French Canadian voyageurs who worked in the fur trade in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Bois-Brûlés is a French name (meaning "burned woods") The Bois-Brûlés were well-known for their skill as canoeists and voyageurs, and they played an important part in the growth of the North American fur trade. They were also renowned for their ferocious independence, often clashing with both the British and American Fur Companies. The Bois-Brûlés were gradually assimilated into the Métis, and their distinct culture and customs are still maintained today.

What is their background, and how have they changed through time?

The Red River colony in Canada and the United States is tied to the Bois-Brûlés. The name is most often associated with the French-speaking Métis of Canada and the United States. Cuthbert Grant led the Bois-Brûlés at the Battle of Seven Oaks.

William H. Keating referred to a group of Métis buffalo hunters he saw in the north near Pembina on the Red River as the Bois brulés.

All of them have a blue capote with a hood, which they use only in bad weather; the capote is secured round their waist by a military sash; they wear a shirt of calico or painted muslin, moccasins and leather leggings fastened round the leg by garters ornamented with beads,&c. The Bois brulés often dispense with a hat; when they have one, it is generally variegated in the Indian manner, with feathers, gilt lace, and other tawdry ornaments.
1824 — William Keating

The phrase Bois-Brûlés seems to have faded in popularity and widespread use with the merger of the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company in 1821.

The Bois-Brûlés are an intriguing people with a rich history. They have clearly experienced numerous obstacles, yet they have also persisted and preserved their culture and customs. They are an essential part of Quebec and Canadian history, and it is hoped that their tale will be remembered for future generations. Please contribute any memories or information you have about them in order to keep their names alive.


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