19. Chaloupes and Kayaks: European Mariners and the Seascapes of Intercultural Contact
The Atlantic Ocean knit together diverse groups of people in an increasingly dense set of connections. Between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, French fishermen undertook trans-Atlantic journeys in the quest for marine resources. Some of these ships were drawn to the beaches southern Labrador, where they engaged in a summer-long cod fishery. Their presence was a seasonal one, and at the end of the summer, fishermen returned to home markets in France with their preserved catch. Their seasonal appearance on Labrador’s beaches and in near-shore waters drew the attention of Inuit groups living in the region, and trade relationships quickly developed between the two groups. These cyclical, yearly encounters between French and Inuit became a predictable, if sometimes volatile occurrence. In this chapter, we explore how the seasonal rounds of these two maritime-focused groups intersected. Specifically, we examine where and how the trade occurred, how French and Inuit began to expect and anticipate this interaction, and the role that maritime technology played in these exchanges.