As promised, I am blogging about my game-creation process. When I start my research, I like to begin with resources that give me the big picture, so that when I read more detailed accounts and primary sources, I know how they fit with the whole.

Today I finished a few sources. First:

This had a wealth of details about the voyageurs, who were the traveling traders that formed the backbone of the fur trade. Basically, they loaded their canoes with European goods, paddled like madmen for weeks, made it to a western fort, traded the goods for furs caught by the local Native Americans, and paddled home with the furs. Here are a few of my favorite details from this source:

  • The voyageurs had to be short (because there wasn’t much room in the canoe), but very strong.
  • They had to paddle 50 strokes a minute for an average of 14 hours a day. They also had to be able to carry two 55 kilogram packs when walking between waterways. That’s over 240 pounds! Not surprisingly, compressed spines and hernias were common injuries.
  • Voyageur mosquito repellant (because, you know, Great Lakes in the summer) was made of bear grease and skunk urine. Yum!

Then I read an article from:

There I figured out one of the decisions I’ll have company men make – where to put your fort. One of the consequences, because of the war with the Iroquois, was that Fort Frontenac ran out of food and 93 men died of scurvy. Yargh!

That, naturally, led me to read this: 

Which includes this fantastic picture: and this delightful description:

The Most Disgusting Mosquito Repellant Ever!| The weird and fascinatingly gross things I discovered today while researching my new game about the Great Lakes fur trade and the lives of voyageurs. Click through to learn more about why short people are better, the worst mosquito repellant recipe ever, and what it's really like to have terminal scurvy.


Robert Falcon Scott’s 1903 and 1911 expeditions were both struck with

the disease. His description: “The symptoms of scurvy do not

necessarily occur in a regular order, but generally the first sign is an

inflamed, swollen condition of the gums. The whitish pink tinge next

the teeth is replaced by an angry red; as the disease gains ground the

gums become more spongy and turn to a purplish colour, the teeth

become loose and the gums sore. Spots appear on the legs, and pain is

felt in old wounds and bruises; later, from a slight oedema, the legs, and

then the arms, swell to a great size and become blackened behind the

joints. After this the patient is soon incapacitated, and the last horrible

stages of the disease set in, from which death is a merciful release.“


So what do you think? Would you smear on some bear grease and skunk urine, or would you rather get eaten alive by mosquitoes?

Published by awyman