Unfair Masters and Rascally Servants? Labour Relations Among Bourgeois, Clerks and Voyageurs in the Montréal Fur Trade, 1780-1821

Type of resource
Author/collaborator
Title
Unfair Masters and Rascally Servants? Labour Relations Among Bourgeois, Clerks and Voyageurs in the Montréal Fur Trade, 1780-1821
Abstract
The eighteenth-century Montreal-based post-Conquest fur trade labour system was organized around indentured servitude, paternalism, and cultural hegemony. French Canadian labourers (voyageurs) signed legal contracts promising to obey their master in exchange for board and wages. The masters, who the author claims called themselves bourgeois, were Scottish, British, American and a few French Canadians. The author points out that the legal contracts between masters and voyageurs were overshadowed by "social contracts" which signified continual negotiating for fair working conditions. She argues that although voyageurs did not challenge the structure of the master and servant relationship, they continually pushed at the boundaries of their rights as workers. They diminished master authority through a "counter-theatre" of resistance, which included working slowly, complaining, stealing provisions, and deserting the service.
Publication
Labour / Le Travail
Volume
Vol. 43
Pages
43-70
Date
Spring 1999
Language
en
Citation
Podruchny, Carolyn. “Unfair Masters and Rascally Servants? Labour Relations Among Bourgeois, Clerks and Voyageurs in the Montréal Fur Trade, 1780-1821.” Labour / Le Travail Vol. 43 (Spring 1999): 43–70.
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