Sunday, 5 February 2012

The Awl in the Knapsack.

Thirdly. That four or five hundred pairs of good Indian shoes be made ready, fit for the service for the English and Indians, that must improve the whale boats and birch canoes; for they will be very proper and safe for that service. And let there be a good store of cow hides well tanned, for a supply of such shoes, and hemp to make thread, and wax to mend and make more such shoes when wanted, and a good store of awls."

Extract from the 1756-1760 journal of Louis Antoine de Bougainville, in part, re-translated by the author. This is an inventory of clothing and equipment issued to French soldiers going on a winter expedition in the New World.
One overcoat
One blanket
One wool cap
Two cotton shirts
One pair of leggings
One breechclout
Two hanks of thread
Six needles
Two pair of deerskin moccasins
One dressed deerskin
Two portage collars
One butcher knife
One pair of snowshoes
One oilcloth per officer, one large one to every four men
Two Siamese knives (folding knives)
One weskit
One awl
One flint, steel and tinderbox with tinder
One drag rope
One comb
One worm
One bearskin
One tomahawk
Two pair of stockings
One pair of mittens
Reference (7).

Grand Portage National Monument.
Grand Portage National Monument
Grand Portage National Monument
These three lower awls are typical of those supplied through trade, and they are made so the owner can add their own handle.

My thanks to Tim Cochrane at the Grand Portage National Monument for the use of these images.


Frontier Carpenter said...

Le Loup,
Have you ever heard of the Museum of the Fur Trade Located in Nebraska? If you haven't you should check out their web site. Right up your alley. The museum is a little known Gem of Nebraska.


Gorges Smythe said...

We often don't stop to think how important even simple tools become in the wilderness.

Le Loup said...

Ron. I have been to the Museum of the Fur Trade site, but they show very little. Am I going to the wrong site?

Gorges. Very true. Of course one could make an awl from wood or bone, but it is very handy to have an iron one with you,& they are better than wood.

Frontier Carpenter said...

Le Loup,
Forgot your on the other side of the globe:)Doubt you'll be stopping in Nebraska anytime soon.
I go to the Fur Trade Museum about every summer or so and haven't checked their website lately, just checked it today and yes it is pretty bare. They do sell a quarterly magazine but it doesn't look like they've made any recently. I have read a few of them and they are very good.
Next time I'm there I will have to take more pictures