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March 22, 2014

Are you a pirate or a privateer?

Pointe-a-Calliere takes to the high seas with family-friendly exhibition

MONTREAL — Arrrr, matey!

Pointe-a-Calliere, the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History, presents a new permanent exhibition called “Pirates or Privateers?”

The very kid-friendly exhibit offers tons of interactive fun that explores the seafaring souls who sailed during New France times.

It’s cleverly displayed on an actual re-created privateer ship called the Iberville.

The exhibit, geared for children 6 to 12 years old and for families, was inspired by “Pirates, Privateers and Freebooters,” a previous PAC exhibit — albeit one with real golden treasures — which ran in PAC’s main gallery space in 2009.

This visit does include some high quality artifacts like tall ship models, navigational tools and instruments, and antique utensils (under glass, of course), but this time, it’s simply just more fun.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

In days of old, seafaring dudes sailed the high seas in search of treasure.

Only thing is one group did so legitimately while the other illegally took what wasn’t theirs, the press release says.

A pirate would attack trade ships and steal all the booty they could get.

On the legal side of the law, privateers “were sailors armed on civilian ships that, in times of war, were authorized by their government with a ‘letter of marque’ to attack any ship — in particular, merchant traffic — flying the flag of enemy state.” And there were indeed both pirates and privateers right in our own neighborhood sailing the waters of the St. Lawrence River, as well as Lake Champlain.

As a privateer you did get your share of the loot after confiscated items went up for auction and proceeds were distributed to the captain and crew.

And if you were injured on a voyage, you also received compensation in the form of 100 “ecus,” equivalent to about one year in pay. The loss of a finger, toe or eye paid 100 ecus while the loss of both limbs paid 600 ecus.

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