Listening to the Fur Trade: Soundways and Music in the British North American Fur Trade, 1760–1840 (McGill-Queen's Studies in Early Canada / Avant le Canada #3) (Hardcover)

Listening to the Fur Trade: Soundways and Music in the British North American Fur Trade, 1760–1840 (McGill-Queen's Studies in Early Canada / Avant le Canada #3) By Daniel Robert Laxer Cover Image
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As fur traders were driven across northern North America by economic motivations, the landscape over which they plied their trade was punctuated by sound: shouting, singing, dancing, gunpowder, rattles, jingles, drums, fiddles, and – very occasionally – bagpipes. Fur trade interactions were, in a word, noisy. Daniel Laxer unearths traces of music, performance, and other intangible cultural phenomena long since silenced, allowing us to hear the fur trade for the first time.Listening to the Fur Trade uses the written record, oral history, and material culture to reveal histories of sound and music in an era before sound recording. The trading post was a noisy nexus, populated by a polyglot crowd of highly mobile people from different national, linguistic, religious, cultural, and class backgrounds. They found ways to interact every time they met, and facilitating material interests and survival went beyond the simple exchange of goods. Trust and good relations often entailed gift-giving: reciprocity was performed with dances, songs, and firearm salutes. Indigenous protocols of ceremony and treaty-making were widely adopted by fur traders, who supplied materials and technologies that sometimes changed how these ceremonies sounded. Within trading companies, masters and servants were on opposite ends of the social ladder but shared songs in the canoes and lively dances during the long winters at the trading posts.While the fur trade was propelled by economic and political interests, Listening to the Fur Trade uncovers the songs and ceremonies of First Nations people, the paddling songs of the voyageurs, and the fiddle music and step-dancing at the trading posts that provided its pulse.

About the Author

Daniel Robert Laxer is an historical researcher in the Negotiations and Reconciliation Division in Ontario’s Ministry of Indigenous Affairs.

Praise For…

“Laxer's attention to the importance of music and sound as tools of diplomacy in relationship negotiations and as central to life in precolonial Canada is a rich and innovative settler approach to historical studies.” Pacific Northwest Quarterly

“There has been much literature devoted to fur-trade canoe routes and voyageur life, but analyzing them through their soundscapes is very original. Daniel Laxer advances the intriguing idea that music and performance can be assessed as another form of exchange and thereby paints a different and more comprehensive picture of fur-trade labour and social relations. Listening to the Fur Trade will really shake up what we know about the fur trade.” George Colpitts, University of Calgary and author of North America’s Indian Trade in European Commerce and Imagination, 1580–1850
Product Details
ISBN: 9780228008590
ISBN-10: 022800859X
Publisher: McGill-Queen's University Press
Publication Date: April 5th, 2022
Pages: 320
Language: English
Series: McGill-Queen's Studies in Early Canada / Avant le Canada