The Winterers

Winter comes early and stays late in the north woods. Without the help of the Indians, the fur traders could not have survived. Night time temperatures reach the freezing level during September. Snow may occasionally fall before the end of October. November often brings snow that will stay on the ground until spring.

winterers, traders, winter

December and January bring heavy snow and colder temperatures. Night time temperatures of -20 to -30 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit) are common in January. Day time temperatures of -20 to -30 can also occur during January. In February, temperatures slowly start to rise, but some of the heaviest snows can occur in March. Travel during this time is extremely hazardous with it being done on snowshoes or with dog sled.

Spring comes slowly, starting in late March; but the thick ice on the lakes prevents canoe travel on most lakes until early May and sometimes June at the farthest company post. With the break up of the ice on the lakes, travel through the north country via canoe can begin again.

In the earliest days of the fur trade, many voyageurs and bourgeois returned to the eastern areas of Canada and the American Colonies. As trading partnerships with the native peoples expanded, it became possible to stay through the winter. Owners of the fur trade companies who lived in the interior all year became known as “winterers”.