Until the middle of the 19th century, the French, the British and the Americans engaged in raiding.
This particular type of naval warfare involved hiring sailors who were not members of the Navy and authorizing them, on behalf of their government, to launch attacks on the enemy. These privateers were even given the right to capture enemy ships.
However, to carry out raids, privateers had to first obtain a letter of marque or a commission. Without these documents, privateers were no better than pirates, who were considered to be outlaws. Thanks to shipowners who supplied vessels, provisions and weapons, privateers served their country, capturing ships and even receiving a share of the profits from the sale of loot seized from the enemy.
Not many people know that in North America, and particularly in the St Lawrence River and Gulf, privateers conducted raids constantly, amassing booty, pillaging fishing posts and taking part in military expeditions. In this way, the privateers of the St Lawrence played an important role in the wars fought in North America.
This exhibition is a collaboration of the Maritime Museum of Québec and the Naval Museum of Québec. It benefited from a grant from the Virtual Museum of Canada.