The Life of a Trapper in North West Manitoba
Inscriptionssigned, ‘R. Richard’ (lower right); titled, ‘LA VIE DU TRAPPEUR DANS LE NORD OUEST DU MANITOBA’ (verso)
ProvenanceProperty of a Distinguished Montreal Collector
The Life of a Trapper in North West Manitoba is a genuinely outstanding composition embodying the life of the trapper in wintertime and his accoutrements, his tent, dog team and a sled loaded with everything that will support his vocation and his life in a hostile environment. Extraordinarily, for this trapper, an important inclusion among the limited supplies he could load in his sled was paper and pencils for his artwork. This painting is a highly important and rare composition of this subject matter executed in paint after René Richard, who was also referred to as “Slim”, had settled in Baie St. Paul post-1942. Its inspiration stems from drawings Richard made during his journeys and lends an autobiographical dimension to the work.
The Beaver Magazine is a fascinating and informative source about René Richard’s activity as a trapper;
“In Quebec, and in some parts of the North, the life of René Richard has become the stuff of legend. Tales of the exploits of “Slim” - Richard was a tall, gout reed of a man turn up again and again, just like the sketches and paintings he traded for supplies or left as tokens of appreciation in trappers’ cabins throughout the North. Few, if any, of the rugged Europeans who slapped down pelts on the counters of Révillon Frères Trading Company did so in exchange for paper and paint, or worked traplines to pay for passage overseas and for art classes in Paris. But René Richard did: for this reason alone, he holds a unique place among the trappers and woodsmen of the North. [...] It is this legacy [in drawings, paintings, sketches, charcoal drawings, and lithographs of northern and aboriginal ways that he left behind] that claims for Richard the honour of being the great portrayer of the Canadian North.” 
“All of the accounts of Richard’s voyage to the Hudson Bay depict him moving resolutely through the northern wilderness, drawn on and on by the allure of the unknown and the relentless desire to paint. Richard found inspiration all around him: in the compelling beauty of the rugged shoreline, in the weathered faces of the men and women in the missions and the Indian camps, in the starkness of the northern villages. He had to continually resist the temptation to stop and sketch: the coureur de bois felt the winter wind as his back, the artist watched with a wary eye as his supply of paint and canvas dwindled.” 
We had not anticipated the extent of the detail available through logs of trading posts. These logs show his commitment to his art was as great as was his admiration of the rugged landscape in which he worked.
 Simone Chaput, "The Life and Art of René Richard," The Beaver 79, no. 6 (2000): 41. Accessed January 19, 2023. https://www.canadashistoryarchive.ca/canadas-history/the-beaver-dec-1999-jan-2000/flipbook/40/.
 Ibid., 44.