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In the world of the voyageur there were two classes of men. The mangeur de lard, or the pork eater, was of a lower status. Bold as he was, his role was that of freighter of goods from Montreal to Grand Portage on Lake Superior. He battled weather, rapids and back-breaking portages, yet still he was viewed as a lesser man. It was the homme du nord or man of the north, who was the supreme voyageur. He would go beyond the forts and settlements to wander the wilds of the far north self-reliant and free.

Like most contemporary trippers I canoe the North woods and live hard for a couple of weeks. We paddle, pole and portage rugged routes through wild country. However, those routes are well mapped, and well traveled. We know what to expect and challenging as it all is, our outcome is predictable. But what of those who make maps, not read them, and discover and blaze the portage trails for we who follow?

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