Pierre, the 14-year-old hero of The Broken Blade, spends a winter with the North West Company in the wilderness of French Canada. The canoe-men build a camp beside an Ojibwa village, and Pierre learns the deep-winter survival skills and secrets of the fur traders and trappers. Surviving in close quarters with the repulsive bowman Beloit is a challenge, but friendship with an Ojibwa brave opens up a rich new world to Pierre.
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In 1801, fourteen-year-old Pierre returns to work for the North West Fur Company and makes the long and difficult journey to a winter camp, where he learns from both the other voyageurs and from the Ojibwa Indians whose land they share.