Rollicking voyageur tunes, powerful Aboriginal chants, and haunting Scottish ballads reverberated throughout Fort William in the early 1800s reflecting its vibrant cultural mix. The Fort was most alive with music and song during the annual Great Rendezvous when fiddles, bondurans (native hand drum), bagpipes, and spoons were played to celebrate another successful year in the fur trade.
In addition to entertaining and amusing Fort inhabitants isolated in the middle of a vast wilderness, music had another important role in the fur trade – voyageurs used it as a tool to ensure proper teamwork. The simple rhythms of the songs sung by the voyageurs helped them keep time as they paddled on their long and gruelling journeys across lakes and rivers. The tempo of the music ensured that each man’s paddle hit the water in unison, allowing them to propel the canoe with greater ease and vigour.
Relive your trip to the Fort, or discover what awaits you, by downloading a sampling of traditional songs from our collection. You can also enjoy listening to audio clip stories of the compelling fur trade sagas that defined Fort William in the 1800s.
Although these music downloads are free of charge, Fort William Historical Park must be acknowledged as the source of the selection. When reproducing any selection from our download gallery, the following credit line must be used:
Audio selection courtesy of Fort William Historical Park
Hudson Bay Company & The Fur Trade
En roulant ma boule
Tin Whistle Song
À la claire fontaine
C'est l'aviron qui nous mène
Traditional Flute Song
The use of selections from our Gallery is restricted to non-commercial, personal, and educational purposes. Should you wish to use any selection for commercial or business purposes, please contact our Marketing Department for more information.
Phone: (807) 473-2326
Fax: (807) 473-2327
We are always interested in seeing how Fort William Historical Park’s music has been incorporated into your endeavour, so please send a copy of your completed project to the Marketing Department by e-mail or regular mail:
Fort William Historical Park
1350 King Road
Thunder Bay ON
CANADA P7K 1L7