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Timothy J. Kent
Historical Author, Paddler, and Reenactor


Welcome to the Information Center of Silver Fox Enterprises

Major Announcement: Be sure to take advantage of the 25% time-limited discount on every one of Tim's titles, including the brand new Phantoms volumes!

Timothy J. Kent is an accomplished and highly respected historian, living-history researcher, paddler, author, lecturer, and historical presenter. This site features Tim's literary and historical achievements, and is for those who are keenly interested in his research, writings, and activities. His work is often sought out by historians, teachers, genealogists, and tribal entities, but it is also meant to be read and enjoyed by all individuals who have an avid interest in history.

Announcement: After decades of preparation, Phantoms of the French Fur Trade; Twenty Men Who Worked in the Trade Between 1618 and 1758 has finally been published. Read about this ground-breaking collection of biographies in the Publications section, including the thought-provoking Preface by Claiborne Skinner in the Reviews category of Phantoms.

Events: French-Canadian Heritage Day at the Upper Peninsula History Center of Northern Michigan University in Marquette, on Saturday, October 1.

Readers' Comments:

*I have been delving into your books in a very big way. I cannot tell you how very impressed and grateful I am to have such resources as yours. Your dedication to detail is astounding, and the number of hours you must have spent transcribing and translating documents must have been in the thousands. You have truly paved the way for us novelists.

*I have used your previous books as sources for much of my research, and I have noticed that doctoral committees have done likewise.

*After 49 years of selling scholarly and out-of-print history books, I remain as impressed as can be with all of your work. Your work on the Phantoms set is magnificent, as it has been on all of your other books.

*Your work is awesome, amazing, etc., etc. I hope you take time to sleep!

*Again, congratulations on the Phantoms books. I've dug out some great stuff in them that in no way would I ever find elsewhere.

*I have three copies of your Paddling Across the Peninsula book...one is out on what is evidently becoming a permanent loan, a second one I have scribbled up with my notes, and then a third one that I offer to those folks who I'm pretty sure will return it.

*I love your book Within the Sphere of the Master! I'm reading a copy I borrowed from my son, and I want my own copy.

There is something about the work of a re-enactor historian that opens a window onto a subject in much greater detail, because of their rich personal experiences. When a re-enactor historian studies his or her chosen subject through first-hand accounts and original artifacts, and then travels the ancient paths while eating their food, dressing in their clothing, wearing their shoes, and surviving the environment, this gives their work so much credibility. One such man is Timothy Kent.

Tim is a descendant of the ancient voyageurs, as well as many individuals who were employed in various other occupations in the fur trade. His ancestral search has been very extensive, and it has led him to write numerous volumes of primary-documented work. I greatly admire his dedication to his endeavor. He has produced a fine collection of books, which those of you who are interested in the study of New France, the North American fur trade, and the lifestyles and material goods of the Native Americans can purchase for your own studies.

My favorite among Tim's gigantic efforts is Birchbark Canoes of the Fur Trade . Where do I start to describe to you these magnificent studies? Maps, artifacts, equipment lists, original paintings and drawings, old photographs, and photographs of existing canoes, they are all here in these two volumes. His hand-done drawings, presenting each component of each of the original canoes, are a great help to those who want to build one; they can be used as a detailed blueprint. The detail he provides is sufficient to greatly assist a builder. His drawings of canoe paddles are excellent; I made one of mine based upon his drawings.

I am a list fanatic. I crave poring over lists of supplies and trade goods, where I find a great deal about the daily lives of these travelers of ancient times and what they needed to survive the vast harshness of the Great Lakes. Tim has included a considerable number of such lists. These two volumes on his part are a masterful feat of work.

Another of his masterpieces is the two-volume set entitled Rendezvous at the Straits . The Straits of Mackinac has huge historical significance, going back four centuries during the historic period. Tim tells great stories about this rich history, and shares loads of original documents with the reader, including letters and voyageur contracts. His lists of what was packed in bales and other containers in the canoes are a great help to the serious researcher, along with his lists of which goods were popular with the native people at different times during the 17 th and 18 th centuries. The types of firearms that were traded through the years, the types of ball and shot, and their quantities, these are all presented.

I hope I am teasing you with enough details so that you will want to own these books, as well as all of the other fine ones that Tim Kent has produced. I also hope that I have attested to the great intensity of his efforts, and his passion for both his own past and the history of the Great Lakes region. This historian does extremely fine work, and his generosity in sharing all that he has learned deserves our thanks. I hope the readers in  Europe and around the world who find the North American fur trade an interesting study will check out his books. Enjoy!

-Skirmish, the International Magazine of Living History and Re-enactment

New Reviews for A Modern Day Voyageur Family: Paddling the 3,000 Mile Fur Trade Canoe Route Across the U.S. and Canada

In order to fully appreciate the hardships of life on the main fur trade canoe route, the first international commercial operation on the continent of North America , one has to live the experience. Timothy Kent, a renowned independent historian based in Ossineke , Michigan , did just that. Kent 's latest work presents a detailed account of his canoe trips over fifteen years, during which he and his family traveled the main fur trade canoe route across Canada and the United States . Inspired by the style of seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth century journals of actors in the fur trade society, Kent provides a privileged account of his experiences during his efforts to acquireknowledge that is not typically available to historians or to outdoors enthusiasts.

Kent methodically recounts in chronological order the preparations and the realization of his many voyages, demonstrating through eighteen chapters the joys and the hardships of such an endeavor. Using a writing style that mimics that of popular history, Kent enriches his experiences by providing a historical narrative and a raison-d'etre for the areas that were visited. He presents a modern-day outlook on the difficulties and joys of canoeing as a mode of transportation, while honoring its rich history andthe  influences that have reached many generations. The preparations for each segment of the trip involved months of historical and geographical research, and required physical and psychological conditioning so that he and his family could sustain the duress of the travel experiences.

What sets Kent apart from canoe fanatics or outdoorsmen is his profound attachment to history, and his use of it to promote the many faces of fur trade society. The historical contributions that are made by linking Kent 's French and French Canadian ancestors to his contemporary activity deeply enrich the account of his canoe tripping adventures. By providing the reader with such insight, Kent acknowledges both the important role of Francophone individuals and their contributions to the history of North America . Francophone cultures in North America are present and very active in his monograph. Furthermore, it is important to note that Kent pays equal tribute to Native and Metis populations interspersed within the accounts of his travels, thus making his partly autobiographical work accessible and interesting to a broad audience.

Finally, to supplement the content of the book, Kent also produced a DVD video containing over three hundred images from his trips, put to orchestral and traditional French Canadian music. This additional product is a vital component of the experience, which enhances the reader's ability to understand the temporal and geographical scope of the years of adventure presented in Kent 's work. The DVD offers the reader the ability to see some of the landmarks that were visited by the Kent family during their many voyages. The DVD is user-friendly, and an interesting addition to the account of the paddling adventures comprising the book.

Kent 's latest narrative is a fitting title on the shelves of fur trade, military, and French colonial historians and enthusiasts alike. It may even inspire them to leave the comfort of their own work and pick up a paddle.

   -Le Journal, Center for French Colonial Studies

This is not a resource we read for muzzleloading information; but for anyone who enjoys canoes and wilderness travel, it should not be underestimated. This book is a combination of fur trade history and modern adventure. Tim Kent is a good writer who can make you feel like you are part of the trip. The photography on the DVD is very fine and the author and some friends perform the musical accompaniment very competently. The book, the DVD, and the rugged paddling trips behind them constitute a huge accomplishment made accessible to all.

    -Muzzle Blasts, Muzzle Loading Rifle Association

This one is a doozie. I'm having a ball following you and your family on the voyageur trail. Bravo for doing it, and for writing it so that all of us can have the vicarious thrill!

    -Harriet Berg, founder and director of the Mme. Cadillac Dancers

Tim has a great style. We get lots of history in just the right size bites, and he plants the clues to upcoming action at just the right time.

    -Sonya Titus, actress, drama coach,college and high school teacher

The book and DVD are very interesting. I love the fact that they are about family togetherness.
- Jenny Kruger, widow of Verlen Kruger, long-distance paddler supreme

Tim has done a terrific job of recreating the routes and the daily experiences of the voyageurs, including his own ancestors. This is the kind of fine, detailed work that I love, a mix of historiography and anthropology in many ways.

      -Rex Hauser, Writer Services


If you are interested in this site, you might find these others helpful:

Historical Society of Michigan


Mackinac State Historic Parks


Willow Winds Traditional Skills


Bob Abrames


Canoe-Kayak Magazine


Chicago Symphony Orchestra


Project Lakewell


Tomahawks of the Fur Trade Era


Zender Dale Arts


The North American Voyageur Council


LaBaye Historical Research Committee

French American Heritage Foundation

French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan