Card games were very popular in Lower Canada, and voyageurs from this region played enthusiastically. Cards were easy to transport and entertained the brigades for many hours, at trading posts as well as en route. Whist was a popular game, as was euchre, which came to North America with early French colonists.
At the fort overseen by NWC bourgeois Alexander Henry, some men would go tobogganing down riverbanks in winter. In summer, they sometimes held spur-of-the-moment canoe races. These were occasions to show their bravado while having fun.
Certain rituals marked the voyageur's life. At the Pointe au baptême on the Ottawa River, first-timers were baptised as voyageurs. Along with bourgeois, hired men officially became hommes du nord when they crossed the height of land into the Pays d'en haut for the first time. A 'spirited' celebration would cap the ceremony.
Alcohol, especially low-grade spirits, was part of most voyageur rituals and celebrations. The bourgeois doled it out as a reward or to go with a ceremony. Alcohol not only boosted the men's spirits; it often fuelled brawls that broke out when festivities ended.
Voyageurs often told stories for entertainment, recounting myths and legends of the places they passed through on their journeys. Other voyageurs' adventures, or their own, were also popular topics. They also adopted Aboriginal beliefs. To ensure safe passage, some would throw an offering such as a coin, tobacco or a piece of flint, into lakes that they crossed.
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