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Commems Collection Canadian: 2014 Silver $15 Voyageurs

 
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United States
7552 Posts
 Posted 06/12/2014  4:05 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
As a collector who enjoys "digging in" and learning about the people, places or events featured on the history-themed coins I colllect, I did a bit of research on "voyageurs" as I waited for my silver $15 Voyageurs coin to be delivered.

For those who aren't already well-versed in voyageur history, here's what I learned:

- Voyageur, in French, means "traveler." I was familiar with the term "voyageur" through my collecting of Canada's silver dollars (1935 to date) and knew a bit about their connection to the North American fur trading business, but as someone who does not speak French, I was unaware of the literal translation of the term.

- Voyageurs generally fell into two categories: 1) "Montreal Men" who mostly worked the rivers and lakes between Montreal and Grand Portage on the western shore of Lake Superior; and 2) "Hivernants" who wintered in the Canadian interior and brought the furs they captured to Grand Portage or Fort William in the warmer weather for trade and transport by the Montreal Men.

- The canoes used by the Montreal Men tended to be the largest of the voyageur canoes. They were about 36 feet long and six feet wide; the typical crew size was eight to ten. The Hivernants most often used canoes about 25 feet in length and four feet in width; they generally featured crews of five to six. Based on this info, I would suggest the coin's design features that of a Hivernant crew.

- The voyageur at the front (bow) of the canoe was called the avant or bowman. The gouvernail or steerman is the person standing at the back (stern) of the canoe and is responsible for steering it. The voyageurs sitting in the middle of the canoe, with the cargo, tended to be the less experienced crew members and were each called a milieu or middleman.

- The typical workday for a voyageur was 14 hours! Each was expected to be able to paddle at a rate of 50 strokes per minute. They must have been in great shape!

- Frances Anne Hopkins, an artist who married a Hudson's Bay Company officer and traveled with him throughout the Great Lakes region (though rarely by canoe) between 1859 and 1869, painted a number of now famous voyageur scenes. I would suggest that her "Shooting the Rapids" painting (shown below) served as at least one of the sources for John Mantha's design on the coin. Based on the number of crew in the canoe, it appears the Hopkins painting depicts a team of Montreal Men vs. the Hivernants featured on the coin, but there are many similarities between her painting and the new coin's design if you look closely.

For more info on the voyageurs, I would suggest visting: http://digital.library.mcgill.ca/nw...tory/08.htm, the source of much of the information I presented.

The RCM specifies the finish on the new coin as matte proof. I would agree 100% for the obverse/portrait side of the coin, but the commemorative reverse features multiple levels of frosting and resembles a traditional proof in many ways.

I'm pleased with the coin and am glad I purchased one. I still don't have plans to purchase the subscription, but might buy future issues if I like their designs.




"Shooting the Rapids" Frances Anne Hopkins, 1879. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

Read More: Commems Collection


Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
Valued Member
Canada
287 Posts
 Posted 06/12/2014  4:48 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add twoplustwo to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Nice! Thank you for the history lesson.
Pillar of the Community
Canada
1749 Posts
 Posted 06/12/2014  4:49 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add pocket change 50 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Commens another excellent history lesson. I thoroughly enjoy your informative posts. You must truly enjoy history & coins as I do. I try and read all your postings. You demonstrate the true value of coin collecting. It's what drew me to collecting in the first place, the history behind the coin . I'm hoping I can pick this collection later, as I really like the theme. I'm just gun shy of committing to a monthly sub. They put out too many monthly subs in 1 yr. it's a killer to subscribe the all the ones a person would enjoy.


The coin is richly detailed. I also like the fact there's no wasted space- ie border. I really feel borders detract from the look of a coin! I look forward to your next post.
Valued Member
Canada
214 Posts
 Posted 06/12/2014  4:50 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Gatewest to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Some great facts there commems. I'm sad to say my Canadian history knowledge is sorely lacking. I spent most of my school days looking at the pretty girls in the hallways! Thanks for the education.
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Canada
6680 Posts
 Posted 06/12/2014  6:28 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Silveroid to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the excellent post, Commems!

As per coin design and the history behind it, the series might the best recent series (well..without taking in account all the "attributes" as high mintage, multiple recent RCM series and coins, ugly storage...etc).
Valued Member
Canada
405 Posts
 Posted 06/12/2014  7:37 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add sherwooddavid to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for doing the research on this commems...very informative !
Pillar of the Community
Canada
634 Posts
 Posted 06/12/2014  8:09 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Electrum to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the very informative posting commems -
I very much liked your details of the men on those massive canoes and how their 14 hour workday (and 50 strokes/minute pace when needed) says a lot about the work ethic and character of those early Canadian travelers...
and - how good most of us have it now...

The coin looks quite good, very collectible...and the balance of the series looks to be very promising.

Thanks!
Pillar of the Community
Canada
2001 Posts
 Posted 06/12/2014  8:45 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Northerncoins to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Good stuff Commens!


These guys having it rough is an understatement.


Quote:
It was expected that each voyageur work at least 14 hours a day, paddle 50 strokes a minute and be able to carry two "pièces" of 90 pounds across each portage. Voyageurs suffered from drowning, hernias and broken limbs, twisted spines, rheumatism as well as clouds of black flies and mosquitoes against which the best repellent was a mix of bear grease and skunk urine. The voyageur's daily routine was a back-breaking one: for the 6 to 8 weeks he was on the road, he was roused as early as 3 am, and set off without eating breakfast. Before 8 o'clock, a breakfast stop was made on a beach. At around 2 in the afternoon, a midday lunch was served on the boat, though often lunch was only an opportunity to chew a piece of pemmican or "biscuit" while rowing. A stop was made for a few minutes each hour to allow the men to have a pipe. This event was so important that distances came to be measured in pipes: 3 pipes might equal 15 to 20 miles of travel. A 32 km lake would be measured as 4 pipes or 4 hours of travel, depending on wind and waves. At nightfall, the canoes were unloaded and turned over to serve as shelters. Supper, which was pre-cooked the night before, was warmed and served. The men dropped down on turf, moss or beach with their heads under the overturned canoes. A tarp provided protection from wind and rain. During the night, a kettle filled with 9 quarts of peas and water was hung over the fire, added to it were strips of pork. This simmered until daylight, when the cook added four "biscuits" and continued to let it simmer. At dawn, the call "lève lève nos gens", resounded through the camp. Canoes were loaded and launched. The swelling of the peas and biscuit had now filled the kettle to the brim, so thick that a stick would stand upright in it.
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Canada
1749 Posts
 Posted 06/12/2014  9:16 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add pocket change 50 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great additional history post northern coins!! This is why I love coin collecting so much. After reading these historical posts & seeing the coin, I'm getting even more tempted to add the series to my collection. I'll
Wait til 3 coins are out. How many men could work under those conditions today? I know my 14 yr old son, wouldn't even look at a job with those hrs or back breaking work. I'm thankful for each day, at how much physically easier I have it, than my 83 yr old mother or even her mother. Some very independent and hardworking men &!women built our great nation. They were the true survivors, they faced all kinds of odds and still made a life.
Valued Member
Canada
413 Posts
 Posted 06/12/2014  11:43 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add lucv13 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Yes thanks for the history lesson it was very informative. I have subscribed to the series and along with many others it seems the main complaint is the display case, however this coin is 36.07 mm so essentially the size of a silver dollar - it shouldn't be too hard to find a suitable display for them
Edited by lucv13
06/12/2014 11:45 pm
Pillar of the Community
Canada
6680 Posts
 Posted 06/13/2014  07:11 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Silveroid to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
however this coin is 36.07 mm so essentially the size of a silver dollar - it shouldn't be too hard to find a suitable display for them


Need to say, that due to it's size as SD in original capsule - there is no nice wooden box/case for 10 SD coins. However, I didn't check the cases with 2*2 cells, but as I remember - 8 cells maximum, probably tray of 20 could be found.
Pillar of the Community
Canada
1304 Posts
 Posted 06/13/2014  11:56 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Dcadon to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the history lesson, but back to the coins for a moment, the mint continues to charge excessively...and in this case, provide less. A $15 coin, with about 3/4 ounce of silver, and charging more than double the spot price on the ounce! At $54.95/each I'm just not feeling it. Especially with the cheapo boxes they've been providing with their subscriptions lately. I'm going to continue with my bullion collection, and forgo the NCLT this year.
Pillar of the Community
Canada
1822 Posts
 Posted 06/14/2014  09:44 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add yingyang to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
It's very sad of our education system in the last few decades, this was standard learning in grade 5 in the early 60 's ,most can't even sing the national anthem today and name the 10 provinces,.I've educated my children in canadian history because
Our schools don't.
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Canada
1749 Posts
 Posted 06/14/2014  5:18 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add pocket change 50 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I see these Commemerative coins as a way of engaging our kids in the history of Canada & possibly stirring an interest in coin collecting.
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Canada
1749 Posts
 Posted 06/14/2014  5:23 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add pocket change 50 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@ Commems, have you ever thought of doing a weekly thread, featuring a coin and the history behind its design? I certainly would be interested in reading such a thread! It may introduce people to coins they never considered before. I'm guessing you have an extensive collection, and I enjoy seeing in hand photos of coins!
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