Guest Post: Anguille Sous Roche: The Slippery History of the Eel in New France (Part 1)

The Historical Cooking Project is proud to announce the start of a three part guest series about the significance of the eel to the history of New France.

Introduction – Eluding Scrutiny
“Come out here, eel, come out.
Dear daughter of the limpid lake,
Come out and say hello.”

“We catch them in such great quantities that it is inconceivable unless one has seen it,” wrote Pierre Boucher in 1664 in his description of the St. Lawrence River.[i] A few years earlier, in 1660, Jesuit Father Jérôme Lalemant had similarly commented that “They constitute a wonderful manna for this country, and one that costs nothing beyond the catching, and ordinarily carries with it all its own seasoning.”[ii] Earlier still, in 1634, Father Paul Lejeune could contend that “this great abundance is supplied by some lakes in the country farther north, which, discharging their waters here, make us a present of this manna that nourishes us.”[iii] Later, historian Bacqueville de la Potherie echoed this biblical imagery. He claimed that “it is a manna in New France,” and also added that “when we know how to prepare them well, they are delicious.”[iv] Even modern biologists estimate that they must have constituted about 50% of the entire biomass of the St. Lawrence River in the 17th century.[v] But, for some strange reason, evidence of this abundant “manna” has remained slippery in the hands of the historiographer of New France. Hidden in plain sight, the eels of the St. Lawrence River swim in the shadows of our historical consciousness.
My objective here is to rediscover and present the history of the eel in New France in order to establish it within the historiography of the colony. Supported by an extensive bibliography of primary sources from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, I show that the eel held important cultural and economic significance for a large spectrum of the St. Lawrence River valley’s diverse inhabitants over the century and a half of the French colonial effort. From being an essential winter survival food for indigenous inhabitants and early settlers, to becoming a faltering commodity in both internal and external colonial markets, the eel is intimately tied to the development of French colonial settlements in the St. Lawrence River valley. As the eel fisheries declined over the course of the eighteenth century and beyond, this history was lost. Scientific confusion, historiographical overlook, and a modern aversion for the slimy fish have further contributed to the eel’s disappearance from public knowledge. The history of the bounteous eel fisheries of New France has therefore become just as elusive as its catch in our markets today.
Abundant as it once was, the eel is dying now. Since 1980, stocks in the St. Lawrence have gone down by 97% due to pollution, climate change, dams, overfishing, diseases, and other unidentified anthropogenic and environmental factors.[vi] The life history of the eel has been shrouded in mystery since Aristotle, and it is perhaps unsurprising that its path to extinction should be so as well.[vii] The Atlantic freshwater eel – Anguilla Anguilla (European eel) and Anguilla Rostrata (American eel) – is a catadromous fish, meaning that it migrates from its saltwater spawning grounds to various freshwater feeding areas on the continents, following the opposite direction of most other migratory species such as salmon. At the end of its life, after a decade or two spent in freshwater, the eel migrates back to the sea in the fall to spawn.  Due in part to these lengthy migrations, the eel has the largest range of all fish species found in North America.
For a fish that is so prevalent in Europe and America, it is nonetheless astonishing (and somewhat “humiliating” according to certain scientists) that the eel has continually managed to confound a wide array of researchers. [viii] Indeed, even today, surprisingly little is known of the eel’s life. Historically, most of this confusion has rested on the eel’s reproductive habits – both in terms of sexual anatomy and of spawning methods. In The History of Animals, Aristotle argued that eels emerge spontaneously from earthworms in humid soil.[ix] Following minor progress on eel science over the next millennia, Sigmund Freud’s first-ever academic publication admitted that he had failed to locate the eel’s male genital organs (obviously).[x] Countless others squandered time and ink pondering over the eel’s mysterious life cycle with evermore-extravagant theories about the eel’s birth, some involving Sardinian beetles falling into the water and others involving the hairs from horses’ tails in England somehow creating life.[xi] Finally, in 1922, after eighteen long years of analyzing the content of his trawling nets up and down the Atlantic, a Danish professor by the name of Johannes Schmidt figured out that the smallest Atlantic eel larvae in the ocean were found in the Sargasso Sea, an enormous windless area largely coinciding with the Bermuda Triangle.[xii] Schmidt’s theory has stood the test of time.
Part of the biological challenge of eel science lied in the fact that, at every stage of its life, the eel’s morphology changes dramatically. In its “leptocephalus” larval form it resembles a transparent floating leaf. It then switches to its elongated shape, and remaining transparent, it takes on the name of “glass eel.” Slowly, as it reaches the estuaries from the sea, the eel shows pigmentation, becoming an “elver.” As elvers mature and grow, they become “yellow eels” with brownish backs and yellow bellies. Towards the end of their life, in preparation for their lengthy migration back to the sea, the yellow eels turn silver and fat, and their eyes grow disproportionately huge. This is the final “silver eel” phase. At every step, the eel’s genitalia are almost impossible to identify without intricate modern scientific apparatus. [xiii]
The scientific problem of geographically locating the eel’s spawning grounds, as well as that of anatomically locating the reproductive organs that allow for said spawning, have jointly been know as the “Eel Question” for centuries.[xiv] In 1879 for example, a German marine biologist named Leopold Jacoby pointed out that “there has been an eel question ever since the existence of natural science.”[xv] For Jacoby, the eel had “been able, in spite of the powerful aid of modern science, to shroud the manner of its propagation, its birth, and its death in darkness.”[xvi]
Nevertheless, while some biologists have definitely made some progress since the days of Aristotle, the “Eel Question” is still alive today in other important ways. Scientists know generally where the eels spawn, but they do not know how. Nor have they ever been able to actually observe eels during the process of reproduction.[xvii] Consequently, successful spawning in captivity and for aquaculture still eludes us. Whoever figures it out is promised to be big in Japan (financially at least), as the Japanese market for eels is currently insatiable. In the meantime, wild eels are being overharvested as larvae to be shipped to China. They are then grown in farms to satisfy Japanese cuisine enthusiasts worldwide, and the species is thus quickly being driven to extinction, victim of its own scientific mysteriousness.
The species is not simply disappearing from our rivers however. It is also disappearing from public and historical consciousness. Baseline understanding of the eel has progressively eroded over the twentieth century, as traditional information and knowledge have gone lost or forgotten. A quick survey of the historiography of New France shows that historians have not studied the eel fisheries to a degree that matches the importance that eels held for the writers, settlers, and indigenous inhabitants of the St. Lawrence River watershed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
More interested in searching for “staple” export resources, economic historians have paid particular attention to the fur trade, the cod fisheries, and the lumber exporting industry in the economic development of New France as a colony.[xviii] The historiographical focus on these commodities has tended to overshadow smaller, but still highly important, resources. Out of (modern) sight, the eel has failed to warrant inquiry as a resource. Similarly, in attempting to move beyond the staples framework, more recent historians have looked at other colonial structures and critical themes, such as agricultural production, military involvement, gender, or relationships with indigenous peoples.[xix] In these conceptual angles, the marginalized eel fisheries of the St. Lawrence did not garner serious academic attention either.
Hope for the eel can still be found in localized historiographies, such as Joseph-Edmond Roy’s 1897 Histoire de la Seigneurie de Lauzon, or in popular histories of topics such as food and diet.[xx] These two disciplines have nevertheless often struggled to overcome the anecdotal nature of the evidence surrounding the eel fisheries of New France. Eel fisheries are unexplored sidenotes, a trivial fact of how some people used to live. Similarly, the most research on seventeenth century eel fisheries has come from scholars interested in eels in the twentieth century. What little historical grounding they provide is interesting, but shallow. For example, biologists such as John Casselman or journalists such as Richard Schweid have included brief references to eels in history, but their focus is still firmly on the twentieth century.[xxi] Jacques Saint-Pierre, a freelance historian of oceanography, dedicates one page and one endnote about the eel fisheries of the St. Lawrence in his book Les Chercheurs de la Mer.[xxii] Geographer Roger Martin’s book on the decline of the eel fisheries of Kamouraska in the twentieth century only shortly discusses these fishery’s origins in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.[xxiii] While these sources provide acceptable initial avenues for further research, they do not provide exhaustive analyses in any meaningful way.
The first section of this essay, “Seeking Subsistence,” looks at the eel as one of the primary winter survival food for early travellers to the area and for indigenous people alike. This seasonal value was at the center of many early colonial interactions. The second section, “Attempting Growth,” tries to unearth the importance of eels in a more established New French settler society by looking at eel fisheries in the contexts of the seigniorial regime, of domestic and foreign trade, of religious culture, and – of course – of diet. Finally, my third and concluding section, “Theorizing Decline,” considers a few historically contemporaneous theories, along with modern ones, that try to explain why the eel seems to have slipped away over the course of the eighteenth century.

Seeking Subsistence
The first Jesuit missionary to land in New France, Father Pierre Biard, was also one of the first Europeans to observe and describe the Mi’kmaq’s seasonal rotation of hunting and fishing around Port Royal in Acadia. Published in 1616, parts of his Relation describe how the indigenous peoples of the area adjusted their diet as seasons came to pass. Following a lunar calendar established on the basis of a precise rotation between available food sources, the Mi’kmaq’s diet entailed a certain discrepancy in food consumption. [xxiv] As Biard himself says, “from the month of May up to the middle of September, they are free from all anxiety about their food.”[xxv] Depending on the weather however, winter could be harsh, with possible conditions described as being either “as haughty as [that of] Princes and Kings” or that of pitiful starvation.[xxvi] In a context of territorial mobility based around diversified food resources, and with the possible threat of winter starvation, Biard recognized that the eel held a particular significance due to the timeliness of its migration in the fall: “Now our savages in the middle of September withdraw from the sea, beyond the reach of the tide, to the little rivers, where the eels spawn, of which they lay in a supply; they are good and fat.”[xxvii] Biard’s account serves as a valuable starting point in assessing the capacity of the eel to shape the lifestyles of the various inhabitants of New France’s Atlantic seaboard.
This phenomenon is not simply found in the northern reaches of North America. The eel was a staple of indigenous diet everywhere on the continent’s Atlantic coast, from the Chesapeake Bay, where painter John White and engraver Theodor De Bry were the first to depict the Powhatan fisheries in 1585 and 1590, to the Massachusetts Bay, where the Puritans probably ate more eels than turkey for their first Thanksgiving dinner after their Patuxet Wampanoag interpret Squanto had taught them how to fish in the appropriately called Eel River of Plymouth.[xxviii] Writing in Louisiana in 1753, Antoine-Simon Le Page du Pratz described that “there are a great number of eels in the river Mississippi, and very large ones are found in all the rivers and bayous.”[xxix]
In the St. Lawrence River watershed, the eel was especially abundant, and the eel fisheries especially intensive, well before European colonial sources could ever attest. Archaeological records concerning ancient Iroquois sites in present-day Eastern Ontario, collected and presented by zooarchaeologist Christen Junker-Andersen in 1988, reveal the existence of seasonal fishing “stations” on the upper St. Lawrence.[xxx] These stations, such as the Steward Site in what is now Morrisburg, show peaks of occupational activity in 1150, 1385, and 1550 CE during which eels were “the single most abundant vertebrate species in the analyzed portion of the faunal assemblage.”[xxxi] Based on the faunal composition of the rest of the midden, Junker-Andersen is able to suggest that the Steward site was most likely only really occupied in late summer and early fall, a timing which would seamlessly coincide with that of the sea-bound eel migrations.[xxxii] Considerable quantities of eel remains have also been found at the Mantle Site, an ancestral Huron-Wendat village, near Toronto.[xxxiii]
However, Junker-Andersen admits to having had some difficulties in replicating his results at other archaeological sites, and it is worth considering why that may be the case.[xxxiv] Based on the scope of his methodologies, he dismisses the possibilities that eel bones may have been rendered unidentifiable by a coarse excavation process, or that they may have somehow undergone autolysis.[xxxv] It seems also quite unlikely that a high number of eels would be consumed exclusively at specific sites and not at all at other sites with very similar features. Instead, as Junker-Andersen proposes, “several culturally-based arguments can be offered to account for the apparently anomalously low representation or total absence of eel remains on so many sites.”[xxxvi] Foremost among these cultural arguments is the humble confession from Junker-Andersen that he simply had not considered looking for eel remains at the site for a long time.[xxxvii] Owing to the epistemic erosion of the eel mentioned above, other zooarchaeologists have certainly overlooked the species in their own analyses as well. Indeed, the eel’s absence from archaeological records may simply be due to deficient identification procedures. Nevertheless, incomplete methodology is probably not the whole answer. Simultaneously simplifying and complicating the matter is the unanimous ethnographic evidence from the seventeenth century that describes both the eel’s universal abundance in the River as well as the common methods by which Native populations fished for, preserved, and ate eels.
Beyond supporting the archaeologists’ data, ethnographic evidence from early colonial sources further demonstrates the extent of the eel fisheries around the time of contact. Early explorers to the St. Lawrence traded substantial amounts of eels with the Natives, and the Jesuit Fathers who stayed and wintered with them occasionally commented on their abundant fisheries. Of note on the river’s banks are the Innu-Montagnais around Québec, the so-called St. Lawrence Iroquoians whom the Innu replaced there, and the latter’s linguistic relatives of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy higher up. As the first European to navigate and describe the St. Lawrence River, Jacques Cartier and his Voyages provide valuable historical details and ethnographic hints as to the daily lives and customs of the St. Lawrence Iroquoians of Stadacona and Hochelaga in the sixteenth century. On several occasions during the months of September and October 1535, Cartier describes being brought “eels and other fish” by the Iroquoian chiefs, first as a sign of welcome, then as items for bartering.[xxxviii] Cartier also includes the word “anguille” in the Iroquoian vocabulary list from his second voyage, alongside revealingly few other fish species.[xxxix] This repeated emphasis on eels in relation to the vagueness of other species could owe to two factors: either eels stood out as the most morphologically distinguishable species (especially as an Old World species within a New World context in which fauna could easily be unfamiliar), or eels simply were that plentiful in the exchanges.
While Father Biard in Acadia would later describe autumnal retreats from the sea for eel fishing as part of the annual food rotation, Cartier’s Voyages help us understand a second significant feature of the fall eel migrations for the indigenous population: the winter. As he writes, “[the Hochelagans] have in their houses large vessels like puncheons, in which they place their fish, such as eels and others, that are smoked during the summer, and on these they live during the winter. They make great store of these as we ourselves saw.”[xl] The eel migrations in the fall came at a most opportune time for the riverside inhabitants as the eels were either consumed fresh or cured by smoking to be packaged for winter consumption.
The most extensive ethnographic accounts of that process come from Jesuit Father Paul Lejeune who lived among the Innu around Québec for a few years. As he points out in 1634, “during the months of September and October, [the Innu] live for the most part upon fresh eels; in November, December and often in January, they eat their smoked eels.”[xli] A year prior, Lejeune had provided a detailed account of the Innu eel smoking methods, along with implicit and explicit comparisons to French cooking:
When I reached the cabins of the Savages, I saw their place for drying eels. This work is done entirely by the women, who empty the fish, and wash them very carefully, opening them, not up the belly but up the back; then they hang them in the smoke, first having suspended them upon poles outside their huts to drain. They gash them in a number of places, in order that the smoke may dry them more easily. The quantity of eels which they catch in the season is incredible. I saw nothing else inside and outside of their cabins. They and the French eat them continually during this season, and keep a large quantity of them for the time when meat is not eaten; I mean the French, for the Savages usually have no other meat than this until the snow is deep enough for Moose hunting.[xlii]
Later in the same passage, upon being presented a roasted eel by an elderly Innu woman, Lejeune is initially disgusted by the eel’s fat and greasiness but accepts it nonetheless out of politeness, wiping his hands in some dry wood powder. The eel is in fact a very fatty food. Across the globe today, from Sweden to Japan, the eel is appreciated and often even revered for its fat content, which makes it about six times as caloric as any other fish species.[xliii] Considering the abundance of eels in the St. Lawrence, and considering the undeniable harshness of the winters to follow, the eel’s calories and its relatively light weight would have been crucial to a nomadic Innu. Food could run short on the trail sometimes. Lejeune himself experienced this as he wintered with them. Surviving off eels proved humbling for the missionary. Appalled by the Innu’s lack of restraint and their apparent lack of careful planning as they held feasts even while on short supplies, Lejeune nonetheless survived. “When I could have, toward the end of our supply of food, the skin of an Eel for my day's fare, I considered that I had breakfasted, dined, and supped well.”[xliv] Later, he added: “We were already reduced to such extremities that I made a good meal on a skin of smoked eel, which a few days before I had thrown to the dogs.”[xlv]
To catch the eels, the Innu used two different fishing techniques depending on the time of year and the general environmental conditions: the weir and the spear. Of the former, Lejeune tells us that they are built out of rocks at low tide at suitable spots along the shores of the river.[xlvi] When the high tide comes in, it submerges their weir. When it goes out again, the eels, which are bottom-dwellers, get stuck behind stonewalls and nets. On days when the sea was rough, the eels took refuge by the shores, and the Innu could catch several hundred in a single tide. In calm weather, however, they had to use their spears. At night from a canoe, the Innu attracted the eels with a torch. When in sight, the fishermen would strike at them with a spear specifically designed to prevent the eel from slithering out of grasp. According to Lejeune, some Innu men could easily take three hundred in a night, and some of the French settlers who had been on the land for a long time had become “as expert as the Savages in this art.”[xlvii]
These observations also hold true across tribal divides. Deep inside Haudenosaunee-Onondaga territory in 1656, Jesuit Father Simon Le Moyne wrote that “a man can harpoon as many as a thousand in one night” on Lake Gannentaa (Lake Onondaga in Upstate New York).[xlviii] A year later, the Jesuits also showed that the ingenious weirs of the Haudenosaunee could catch both the ascending salmon and the descending eels in the rivers of the Iroquois country.[xlix] Writing from Fort Frontenac (present-day Kingston), Récollet missionary Louis Hennepin described the same methods of spear fishing at night in 1681. Hennepin goes further still, arguing that “the most considerable Fishery of the Savages is that of Eels, which are very large. […] They strike an infinite quantity of them.”[l]
The eel also held elaborate cultural and material value beyond mere nutrition. Eel skins can easily be leatherized, and there is extensive evidence of various indigenous groups using them as hair ties, as splints for broken bones, as tightening binds for harpoons and sleds, or in clothing and moccasins. The fat of the eels could also serve medicinal purposes.[li] The Jesuit naturalist Louis Nicolas, author of the Codex Canadensis, gives a summary of the material culture surrounding eel skins: “The skins are widely used among the French and the natives. Some use them as straps for their flails. The natives treat them and make long tresses to tie up girls’ hair. The women who do this use all the intestines, and the liver in particular, to soften the skins and to clean them.“[lii] Much as Jacques Cartier described, the eel was also intimately tied to welcoming ceremonies and diplomatic negotiations between ethnic groups.[liii] While harder to assess from a modern perspective, the eel did also seem to carry important spiritual connotations across ethnic groups. In a few instances, the Jesuits describe rituals in which “sorcerers” requested eels to throw into the fire to appease “the Devil.”[liv] To this day still, the Onondaga have an Eel Clan, the only such clan across the Haudenosaunee Confederacy to be named after a fish.[lv] Finally, the impact of eels and eel fisheries on indigenous toponymy is extensive.[lvi] For example, Lake Magaguadavic in New Brunswick means “Lake of Eels” in Mi’kmaq, and Swatara Creek means “where we feed on eels” in Susquehannock. French settlers do the same with a wide variety of rivers, lakes, or capes, which they name “à l’anguille” on several occasions.[lvii] These invisible marks on the landscape are often still here today across North America and begin to reveal the importance of the eel fisheries for the continent’s seventeenth century denizens.
The extent and intensity of the indigenous eel fisheries of the St. Lawrence River did not go unnoticed by early French travelers and settlers, many of whom fishermen. In The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail, W. Jeffrey Bolster connects the depletion of Europe’s waters to the rise of settlements in North America. “Fully at home neither on the inhospitable shore nor on its off-lying fishing grounds,” fishermen do not sit well in the later nationalist and territory-based historiographies of colonial settlement.[lviii] It seems neither does the eel. The early explorers’ transient experience of perceived halieutic abundance defined their first encounters with the New World. Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain’s writings, for example, are replete with observations and assessments of the abundance of various species that could be found in the St. Lawrence’s estuary, both previously known and unknown.[lix] To Bolster, “the explorers’ voyages were thus journeys in space and journeys through time – ecological time; their accounts reflected not just American abundance, but the depletion of European coastal ecosystems.”[lx] In that context, the eel initially stood out to the French as some kind of biblical “manna.”
Nevertheless, abundance proved easy to imagine, and harder to subsist on so far from home. Making the transition from temporary denizens to permanent settlers proved demanding to the French. Lands had to be cleared, and surviving the winters at Québec was challenging. In that context, eels very quickly made their way from the Innu smokehouses to the New French tables. In fact, Québec was an especially suited location for eel fishing. Relatively shallow waters, and the narrowing St. Lawrence allowed easier access to a high concentration of migrating eels. Indeed, Champlain’s plate drawings of Québec’s surroundings clearly depict fishing weirs in the waters.[lxi] After all, eel fisheries might perhaps even explain why Québec City lies where it is now!
At any rate, the Innu knew these fisheries well. Champlain describes having had to share the grounds at Québec with natives who were encamped there to fish and smoke eels in September and October in prevision for the winter.[lxii] While Father Lejeune would later say that French settlers had become experts at spearing eels in the late 1630s, Champlain and the French seem not to have yet mastered the eel fisheries of the St. Lawrence in the early 1620s. Consequently they were forced to trade, and the Innu drove a hard bargain. In the fall of 1628, Champlain complained: “[The Innu] gave us few and sold them very dear, our men giving their coats and other possessions for fish. We bought 1200 with goods from the storehouse, giving new beaver-skins in exchange […] ten eels for one beaver. […] These were distributed to all, but it did not amount to much.”[lxiii]
It didn’t take very long for the early settlements’ intensive reliance on the eel to run them into trouble however. As early as 1612, Marc Lescarbot had already been made aware – having also observed it first in the Natives of Acadia – of a severe dysentery outbreak at Québec among Sieur de Monts and Champlain’s men.[lxiv] While Champlain himself was slightly more cautious in his explanation of the unfortunate incident, arguing “in his opinion” that “badly-cooked eels” had caused the dysentery, Lescarbot contended more polemically that the disease must originate from a weak and undiversified diet of only fish without bread.[lxv] While it still provided valuable nutrition, if only at a little risk, the overreliance on eel fisheries could also very quickly bring despair on the colony. In October 1648, the Jesuits wrote in their Journal that “There were few eels this year, and there was a great tendency to destitution.”[lxvi]
Regardless, the colony grew, and forward-thinking individuals began to elaborate and propose plans for its economic survival in. For Champlain, the eel was an obvious element of those plans. He estimated that around 100,000 livres could be made annually from the eel fisheries.[lxvii] Whether those numbers are realistic is beside the point – in Champlain’s vision, the eel would certainly be a part of the colony’s economy. Similarly, while answering a question about what kind of merchandise could be sent to France from the young colony a year after Champlain’s death, Paul Lejeune proposed that “one can also salt Eels in abundance, which are very good; we catch and make provisions of these long fish because they are found at Kébec.”[lxviii] Champlain and Lejeune’s accounts served to promote the colony’s economic potential to audiences in the metropolis. In this first phase of colonization, as well as before colonization altogether, the eel was firmly at the center of the autumnal lifestyle of the St. Lawrence River’s inhabitants, be they natives or newcomers. It would take over a century before it slipped away.

Samuel Mongeau is a Master's student in the Department of History at McGill University. His research interests meet at the intersection of Early (North) American History, Environmental History, and Indigenous History. He spends his spare time pulling hooks out of his thumb at the river's edge or twisting his ankle in the trailhead parking lot.


[i] Pierre Boucher, Histoire véritable et naturelle des mœurs et productions du pays de la Nouvelle-France (Paris: FlorentinLambert, 1664), 78. Translation and emphasis mine.
[ii] “Relation of 1659-1660,” in Reuben Thwaites, ed. The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, 73 volumes (Cleveland: Burrows Brothers, 1896-1900) [Hereafter JR], 45: 191.
[iii] “Relation of 1634,” in JR 6: 309.
[iv] Claude Charles Bacqueville de la Potherie, Histoire de l’Amérique Septentrionale, 4 volumes (Paris: Nyon Fils, 1722), 283. Translation mine.
[v] John Casselman, “Dynamics of Resources of the American Eel, Anguilla Rostrata: Declining Abundance in the 1990s,” in Eel Biology, ed. Katsumi Aida et. al (Tokyo: Springer, 2003), 260.
[vi] Casselman, “Dynamics of American Eel,” 268.
[vii] Ralph C. Jackson, “The Eel in Ancient and Modern Times,” The Scientific Monthly 23 (1926): 433.
[viii] See Leopold Jacoby, quoted in: Carl H. Eigenmann, “The Solution of the Eel Question,” Transactions of the Microscopical Society 23 (1902): 5.
[ix] Richard Schweid, Eel (London: Reaktion Books, 2009), 22.
[x] Schweid, Eel, 29.
[xi] Schweid, Eel, 27-29.
[xii] Schweid, Eel, 33-37.
[xiii] Schweid, Eel, 17.
[xiv] Eigenmann, “Solution of the Eel Question,” 5.
[xv] Schweid, Eel, 15.
[xvi] Schweid, Eel, 15.
[xvii] Schweid, Eel, 22.
[xviii] See for example Melville Watkins’ comments on Harold Innis’ works about the fur trade and cod fisheries in: Melville H. Watkins, “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth,” The Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science 29 (1963): 141.
[xix] Daniel Hickey, “New France: Historiographical Structures and Themes,” Acadiensis 24 (1994): 110.
[xx] Joseph-Edmond Roy, Histoire de la Seigneurie de Lauzon, 5 volumes (Lévis: Mercier et Cie, 1897); Yvon Desloges, À Table en Nouvelle-France: Alimentation Populaire, Gastronomie et Traditions Alimentaires dans la Vallée Laurentienne avant l’Avènement des Restaurants (Québec: Septentrion, 2009).
[xxi] See for example Richard Schweid, Eel, as well as John Casselman, “Dynamics of Resources of the American Eel, Anguilla Rostrata: Declining Abundance in the 1990s,” in Eel Biology.
[xxii] Jacques Saint-Pierre, Les Chercheurs de la Mer: les débuts de la recherche en océanographie et en biologie des pêches du Saint-Laurent (Québec: IQRSC, 1994), 39.
[xxiii] Roger Martin, L’Anguille (Montréal: Leméac, 1980), 35-37.
[xxiv] “Relation of 1616,” in JR 3: 79.
[xxv] “Relation of 1616, “ in JR 3: 79.
[xxvi] “Relation of 1616, “ in JR 3: 77.
[xxvii] “Relation of 1616, “ in JR 3: 81.
[xxviii] Schweid, Eel, 98-99.
[xxix] Antoine-Simon Le Page du Pratz, Histoire de la Louisiane, 3 volumes (Paris: De Bure, La Veuve Delaguette, & Lambert, 1758), 2: 157.
[xxx] Christian Junker-Andersen, “The Eel Fisheries of the St. Lawrence Iroquoians,” North American Archaeologist 9 (1988): 101.
[xxxi] Junker-Andersen, “The Eel Fisheries,” 101.
[xxxii] Junker-Andersen, “The Eel Fisheries,” 110.
[xxxiii] Jennifer Birch, and Ronald F. Williamson, The Mantle Site: An Archaeological History of an Ancestral Wendat Community (Lanham: Altamira Press, 2013), 106.
[xxxiv] Junker-Andersen, “The Eel Fisheries,” 112.
[xxxv] Junker-Andersen, “The Eel Fisheries,” 113.
[xxxvi] Junker-Andersen, “The Eel Fisheries,” 113.
[xxxvii] Junker-Andersen, “The Eel Fisheries,” 114.
[xxxviii] Ramsay Cook, ed. The Voyages of Jacques Cartier (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993), 49, 53, 70, 74, 111.
[xxxix] “Anguille” and “Eel” is translated as “esgueny” in, Cook, Voyages of Jacques Cartier, 91.
[xl] Cook, Voyages of Jacques Cartier, 62. Emphasis mine.
[xli] “Relation of 1634,” in JR 6: 275.
[xlii] “Relation of 1632,” in JR 5: 87.
[xliii] John L. Riley, The Once and Future Great Lakes Country: An Ecological History (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013), 21.
[xliv] “Relation of 1634,” in JR 7: 45.
[xlv] “Relation of 1634,” in JR 7: 123.
[xlvi] “Relation of 1634,” in JR 6: 307.
[xlvii] “Relation of 1634,” in JR 6: 309.
[xlviii] “Relation of 1655-1656,” in JR 42: 95.
[xlix] “Relation of 1656-1657,” in JR 43: 259.
[l] Louis Hennepin, A Vast Discovery of a Vast Country in America, 2 volumes (London: Henry Bonwicke, 1698), 2: 103-104.
[li] Rob MacGregor, et. al, “Natural Heritage, Anthropogenic Impacts, and Biopolitical
Issues Related to the Status and Sustainable Management of American Eel: A Retrospective Analysis and Management Perspective at the Population Level” American Fisheries Society Symposium 69 (2009): 716-718.
[lii] François-Marc Gagnon, ed., The Codex Canadensis and the Writings of Louis Nicholas (Montréal: McGill-Queens University Press, 2011), 390.
[liii] See for example the events described in: “Relation of 1640-1641,” in JR 20: 153; “Journal of the Jesuit Fathers in the year 1649,“ in JR 34: 61; “Journal of the Jesuit Fathers in the year 1665,” in JR 49: 177.
[liv] “Relation of 1634,” in JR 7: 85; “Relation of 1637,” in JR 13: 262.
[lv] Casselman, “Dynamics of American Eel,” 259.
[lvi] Macgregor, “Sustainable Management of American Eel.” 716.
[lvii] See the map on: Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix, Histoire et Description Générale de la Nouvelle-France, Avec le Journal Historique d’un Voyage fait par ordre du Roi dans l’Amérique Septentrionale (1722), 3 volumes (Paris: Pierre-François Giffart, 1744), 3: 64.
[lviii] W. Jeffrey Bolster, The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail  (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2012), 16.
[lix] Bolster, The Mortal Sea, 36.
[lx] Bolster, The Mortal Sea, 45.
[lxi] H.P. Biggar, ed. The Works of Samuel de Champlain. 6 volumes (Toronto: The Champlain Society, 1922) 2: 25. See Plate III.
[lxii] Biggar, Champlain, 2: 44-45.
[lxiii] Biggar, Champlain, 5: 298.
[lxiv] Marc Lescarbot, “Last Relation of what took place in the voyage made by Sieur de Poutrincourt,” in, JR 2: 165.
[lxv] Marc Lescarbot, “Last Relation of what took place in the voyage made by Sieur de Poutrincourt,” in, JR 2: 165. The same event is narrated by Champlain in: Biggar, Champlain, 2: 53.
[lxvi] “Journal of the Jesuit Fathers in the year 1648, “ in JR 32: 105.
[lxvii] Biggar, Champlain, 2: 340.
[lxviii] “Relation of 1636,” in JR 9: 169.

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