There is more than one place called Portage, or with "portage" as part of its name. Historically, a portage is a place where travellers would carry their canoes and cargo around rapids or from one waterway to another. The word is derived from the French verb porter meaning "to carry"; several other words which occur in both French and English, such as "portable" and "portmanteau", are from the same root.

There are dozens of portages from the old fur trade routes, used by voyageurs (French for travellers) mainly based in Montreal, all over Western Canada and the Northwestern US. Not all of them have "portage" in the name; for example Sault Sainte Marie (Ontario) and Sault Sainte Marie (Michigan) are at an old portage, but the word "sault" describes the rapids there; a literal translation is "leap".

"The Portage", Winslow Homer, 1897


New Zealand

United States of America

What is now a popular recreational canoe route in the Adirondacks is known as the "seven carries"; the name is a translation of "sept portages".

See also Portage County

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