Burton on French Canadians

“They are a queer lot, these French Canadians, who have ‘located’ themselves in the Far West. Travelers who have hunted with them speak highly of them as a patient, submissive, and obedient race, inured to privations, and gifted with the reckless abandon—no despicable quality in prairie traveling—of the old Gascon adventurer; armed and ever vigilant, hardy, handy, and hearty children of Nature, combining with the sagacity and the instinctive qualities all the superstitions of the Indians; enduring as mountain goats; satisfied with a diet of wild meat, happiest when it could be followed by a cup of strong milkless coffee, a ‘chasse cafe’ and a ‘brule-gueule;’ invariably and contagiously merry; generous as courageous; handsome, active, and athletic; sashed, knived, and dressed in buckskin, to the envy of every Indian ‘brave,’ and the admiration of every Indian belle, upon whom, if the adventurer’s heart had not fallen into the snares of the more attractive half-breed, he would spend what remained of his $10 a month, after coffee, alcohol, and tobacco had been extravagantly paid for, in presents of the gaudiest trash.

Such is the voyageur of books: I can only speak of him as I found him, a lazy dog, somewhat shy and proud, much addicted to loafing and to keeping cabarets, because, as the old phrase is, the cabarets keep him in idleness too. Probably his good qualities lie below the surface: those who hide a farthing rush-light under a bushel can hardly expect us, in this railway age, to take the trouble of finding it. I will answer, however, for the fact, that the bad points are painfully prominent.”