Hivernants was used during the North American fur trade to describe Métis who spent the winter months hunting and trapping on the Canadian prairies where they built small temporary villages. The word is French for "winterer". "Hiverner" the verb means to overwinter.[1]

Building at the Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan Métis hivernant settlement in 1874

The hivernants were active in hunting buffalo (bison) during the cold-weather season (mid-November to mid-March) when the bison's hair was thick enough for the production of buffalo robes. This was as opposed to the summer hunt, which was primarily aimed at harvesting meat.[2]

Hivernant was also applied to a fur trade employee who wintered in the wilderness (usually at a trading post).

Hivernant may also refer to a vacationer who spends the winter months at a resort or vacation center in a warmer climate. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries many of the seasonal visitors to the French Riviera were referred to as hivernants. With the ability to vacation abroad (or domestically if they were French) for months on end (usually October until May), these hivernants were typically wealthy elites.


From the 1840s to the 1870s Métis hivernants hunting villages were established[3] at Turtle Mountain, on the Souris River,[4] Riding Mountain, Wood Mountain,[5] on the Assiniboine, in the Qu'Appelle valley,[6] on the North and South Saskatchewan rivers, in the Cyprus Hills,[5] on the Battle River, on the Red Deer River, and in Montana.[3][7]

The Southbranch settlements of Batoche and St. Laurent de Grandin in Saskatchewan were founded by French Métis hivernants from the Red River settlement in Manitoba, Canada.[3]

Moose Jaw, Willow Bunch, Lebret in Saskatchewan and St. Albert, Lac La Biche, Lac Ste. Anne in Alberta also began as Métis hivernants settlements.[8][9][10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ John Francis McDermott (1941). A glossary of Mississippi Valley French, 1673-1850. Washington University. p. 88.
  2. ^ Foster, 67
  3. ^ a b c John Welsted (1 January 1996). The Geography of Manitoba: Its Land and Its People. Univ. of Manitoba Press. p. 90. ISBN 978-0-88755-375-2.
  4. ^ "Métis Wintering Communities". Turtle Mountain–Souris Plains Heritage Association. Retrieved 2014-01-16.
  5. ^ a b "FRENCH AND MÉTIS SETTLEMENTS". Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina. 2006. Archived from the original on 2013-11-09. Retrieved 2014-01-16.
  6. ^ "Cypress hills". Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina. 2006. Retrieved 2014-01-16.
  7. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-06-01. Retrieved 2015-05-14.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Littlejohn, Catherine, Ron Rivard, et al. "Metis History for Exhibits and Scripts." Historica Foundation. (2002): 1-2. Print.
  9. ^ "Oblates in the West "The Alberta Story" (Lac Ste. Anne / St. Albert)". Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved 2014-01-19.
  10. ^ "Atlas of Saskatchewan (French and Francophone Métis Settlements)". Retrieved 2014-04-06.