Video by the Musée de la mémoire vivante
Informant: Roger Martin, author of the book L’anguille
Date: October 27, 2016
Location: Rivière-Ouelle (Québec)
17th-century explorers documented what they observed in New France.
Roger Martin is sitting at a desk facing the camera and describes, using his hands from time to time, the technique used by Aboriginal people to fish eel, as documented by the Jesuits.
[Roger Martin] We have accounts, among other things, in the Jesuit Relations and by French voyageurs who passed through here and described their journey afterwards. We learn, of course, that Indigenous Peoples fished. They even knew how to build a type of eel trap.
The method they used was a bit rudimentary. They erected a sort of barrier with rocks. Then they put a sort of basket, a wickerwork basket, in the middle to catch eels. History doesn’t tell us, but it’s possible that the eels didn’t always enter the basket, that they stayed clustered together in the mud along the barrier that had been installed.
This was the method Indigenous Peoples used. Obviously, they chose spots that were suitable for installing their traps.