Firsthand accounts of fur trade life often express frustration at the lack of conversation in fur trade country. By conversation, partners, clerks, and bourgeois had in mind a particular mode of talk associated with a particular cultural world; they often did not acknowledge the presence of other modes of talk around them. This article pursues the example of Daniel Harmon, a Vermonter who served with the North West Company (nwc) from 1800 to 1819, arguing that attention to Harmon's expectations about conversation can permit us to use him more effectively as an ethnographic source both for his home cultural formation and for the Native and Canadian cultures within which he worked, lived, and married.

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