See footage from the 1919 silent film Romance of the Far Fur Country, shot in Northern Canada. From YouTube.
Fur Trade in New France and Acadia
Early in the 17th century French traders established permanent shore bases in ACADIA, a post at TADOUSSAC (QC) and in 1608 a base at QUÉBEC to exploit the trade more effectively. The following year the Dutch began trading up the Hudson River (NY) and in 1614 established permanent trading posts at Manhattan and upriver at Orange [Albany]. This activity marked the beginning of intense rivalry between two incipient commercial empires. During these years the number of traders flooding into the St Lawrence region and cutthroat competition among them greatly reduced profits. In an attempt to impose order the French Crown granted monopolies of the trade to certain individuals. In return, the monopoly holders had to maintain French claims to the new lands and assist in the attempts of the Roman Catholic Church to convert Aboriginal people to CHRISTIANITY.
In 1627 Cardinal Richelieu, first minister of Louis XIII, organized the COMPAGNIE DES CENT-ASSOCIÉS to put French territorial claims and the missionary drive on a firmer footing. Missionaries were sent out: in 1615, four Récollets, and in 1625 the first members of the powerful Society of Jesus (Jesuits) arrived at Québec. A mission base, STE MARIE AMONG THE HURONS, was established among the HURON near Georgian Bay, but the Huron were more interested in the trade goods of the French than in their religion. Yet it was fur-trade profits that sustained the missionaries and allowed the company to send hundreds of settlers to the colony. In 1642 VILLE-MARIE [Montréal] was founded as a mission centre. In 1645 the company ceded control of the fur trade and the colony's administration to the colonists (see COMMUNAUTÉ DES HABITANTS). Unfortunately, they proved to be inept administrators, and fur-trade returns fluctuated wildly as a result of an IROQUOIS blockade of the Ottawa River route to the West. Finally, after a desperate appeal by the colonial authorities to Louis XIV, in 1663 the Crown took over the colony.
The main staple of the trade was still BEAVER for the hat industry. The Ministry of Marine (see MINISTÈRE DE LA MARINE), responsible for colonial affairs, leased the West Indies trade, the African slave trade and the marketing of Canadian beaver and moose hides to the newly formed COMPAGNIE DES INDES OCCIDENTALES, in reality a crown corporation. All permanent residents of the colony were permitted to trade for furs with the Aboriginal people but they had to sell the beaver and moose hides to the company at prices fixed by the Ministry of Marine. All other furs were traded on a free market; thus the trade was not a monopoly, but the law of supply and demand had been suspended for beaver and moose hides.
Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the French minister of marine, hoped to see the Canadian economy diversified to produce raw materials for French industry, particularly timber, and minerals and foodstuffs for the West Indies plantations. Thousands of emigrants were shipped to Canada at the Crown's expense to bring the land into production. Colbert discovered that a sizable proportion of the young men did not remain on the land but disappeared for years to trade with the Aboriginal people in their distant villages (see COUREURS DE BOIS). The main reasons for this phenomenon were the assured profits in the trade and the imbalance of the sexes, which was so great that until about 1710 only about one man in seven could hope to find a wife - a necessity on a farm. In the interior, however, the traders quickly formed alliances with Aboriginal women, whose economic skills facilitated adaptation by the French to wilderness life. By 1681 Colbert was forced to acknowledge the pull of the fur trade, and he inaugurated the congé system. Each year up to 25 congés (licences to trade) were to be issued by the governor and the intendant. Each congé allowed three men with one canoe to trade in the West. It was fondly hoped that the Canadians would wait their turn for a congé, thus leaving the colony only 75 men short each year.
The new system did little to reduce the number of men away from the settlements (most of them illegally), and the amount of beaver pouring into Montréal continued to increase astronomically. By the 1690s the Domaine de l'Occident (Company of the Farm), which had been obliged to take over the beaver trade in 1674 from the defunct Compagnie des Indes Occidentales, was complaining of a huge glut. In 1696, in desperation, the minister of marine gave orders to suspend the beaver trade, to stop the issuing of congés and to abandon all the French posts in the West, except Saint-Louis-des-Illinois. This occurred while England and France were at war and the Canadians were engaged in a desperate struggle with the English colonies and their Iroquois allies. The governor and intendant (administrator for France) in Québec protested vigorously, declaring that to abandon the posts meant abandoning their Aboriginal allies, who would then go over to the English. NEW FRANCE would be doomed. In addition, the English had been established since 1670 at posts on Hudson Bay (see HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY, HBC), and the western posts were essential to fend off that competition. The Canadian COMPAGNIE DU NORD had been founded in 1682 to challenge the HBC on its own ground, but it was a failure. The minister of marine was obliged to rescind his drastic orders and the beaver trade resumed, for purely political reasons.
In 1700, on the eve of new hostilities, Louis XIV ordered the establishment of the new colony of Louisiana on the lower Mississippi River, settlements in the Illinois country and a garrisoned post at Detroit. The aim was to hem in the English colonies between the Allegheny Mountains and the Atlantic. This imperialist policy depended on the support of the First Nations; and the fur trade was used to maintain their alliance.
In 1715 it was discovered that rodents and insects had consumed the glut of beaver fur in French warehouses. The market immediately revived. As an item on the balance sheet of French external trade, furs were minuscule, and their share was shrinking proportionately as trade in tropical produce and manufactured goods increased; but it was the backbone of the Canadian economy.
Unlike the HBC with its monolithic structure staffed by paid servants, in New France down to the early years of the 18th century the trade was carried on by scores of small partnerships. As the 18th century wore on and costs rose with distance, the trade came to be controlled by a small number of BOURGEOIS, who hired hundreds of wage-earning VOYAGEURS. Most companies consisted of three or four men who obtained from the authorities the lease on the trade at a specific post for three years; all members shared profits or losses proportional to the capital subscribed. Trade goods were usually obtained on credit, at 30% interest, from a small number of Montréal merchants who also marketed the furs through their agents in France. The voyageurs' wages varied from 200 to 500 livres if they wintered in the West. For those who paddled the canoes westward in the spring and returned with the autumn convoy, the usual wage was 100-200 livres plus their keep (about double what a labourer or artisan would earn in the colony).
Between 1715 and the SEVEN YEARS' WAR (1756-63) the fur trade expanded greatly and served a variety of purposes - economic, political and scientific. Educated Frenchmen were keenly interested in scientific inquiry, and government members, eager to discover the extent of North America, wished a Frenchman to be the first to find an overland route to the western sea (see NORTHWEST PASSAGE). Commissions were granted to senior Canadian officers such as Gaultier de LA VÉRENDRYE to discover that route. They were given command of vast western regions (some of which overlapped territory claimed by the British), with sole right to the fur trade. Out of their profits they had to pay the expenses of maintaining their posts and sending exploration parties west along the Missouri and Saskatchewan rivers. The Crown thereby made the fur trade pay the costs of its pursuit of science, and also maintained control over its subjects in the wilderness and its alliances with the First Nations to exclude the English. By 1756, when war with England put a stop to EXPLORATION, the French had reached the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Warfare between the BLACKFOOT and CREE prevented further advances.
Throughout this period there was keen competition between the Canadian traders and the HBC, with the Canadians taking the lion's share of the trade. They had many advantages: they controlled the main waterways throughout the West; they had a sure supply of the birch bark needed for canoes (something that the Anglo-Americans and the HBC men both lacked); many of their trade goods were preferred by the Aboriginal people; and they had good relations with the First Nations, with whom they had developed extensive kinship ties. Attempts by the English of the Thirteen Colonies to obtain more land for settlement by any means angered the Aboriginal people. The French did not covet Aboriginal lands, but were determined to deny them to the English.
HBC traders made no real attempt to push their trade inland. Instead, they waited in their posts for the Aboriginal people to come to them. The First Nations were astute enough to play the English and French off against each other by trading with both. The French dared not try to prevent Aboriginal people from taking some furs to the bay but made sure to obtain the choice furs, leaving only the bulky, poor-quality ones to their rivals. In the St Lawrence region, New York and Pennsylvania traders made little attempt to compete with the Canadians. Instead, they purchased furs clandestinely from the Montréal merchants. In this way the Canadians obtained a good supply of strouds (coarse English woollen cloth), a favourite English trade item. The illicit trade between Montréal and Albany also removed any incentive the New York traders might have had to compete with the Canadians in the West.
When the Seven Years' War began, the fur trade continued out of Montréal. The First Nations people had to be kept supplied, but the volume of exported furs steadily declined. Within a year of the French capitulation at Montréal in September 1760, the trade began to revive, largely supported by British capital and Canadian labour.
Fur Trade After 1760
At the time of the CONQUEST, over the period 1759-60, two systems dominated the commercial fur trade of the northern half of the continent: the St Lawrence-Great Lakes system, based at Montréal and extending to the upper reaches of the Mississippi River and its major northern tributaries, as well as to the prairies and the southern portion of the Canadian Shield; and the Rupert's Land system, which theoretically covered the whole region draining into Hudson and James bays. The St Lawrence-Great Lakes system, developed by the French, had come to be served by the en dérouine (itinerant peddling) pattern of trade - ie, a pattern in which the trade, dominated by many small partnerships - was conducted by parties of a few men sent out to do business with the First Nations in their own territory. The Rupert's Land trading system, by contrast, had not evolved in the same manner; in 1760 the HBC's employees still followed the practice of remaining in their coastal "factories" (major trading posts), awaiting the arrival of Aboriginal people to trade.
After the Conquest, Anglo-Americans (Yankees, or Bastonnais), English and Highland Scots merchants supplanted the Canadian bourgeois and the agents of French merchants at Montréal. The new "pedlars" forged a new commercial link with London. The upsurge in activity in Montréal disturbed the HBC's "sleep by the frozen sea": the success of its new rivals forced the company to alter its coast-factory trading policy, and in 1774 the HBC penetrated inland from the bay to found CUMBERLAND HOUSE, close to the Saskatchewan River. For their part, the pedlars learned that co-operation among themselves, rather than competition, was the road to commercial success.
The resulting NORTH WEST COMPANY (NWC) rose rapidly to a position of dominance in the trade by gaining a de facto monopoly of the trade in the fur-rich area around Lake ATHABASCA. Staple fur (beaver) and fancy furs (mink, marten, fisher, etc), unsurpassed in quality and number, assured handsome profits in spite of the high costs of the necessarily labour-intensive transportation system, the canoe brigade. The annual dash of brigades from Fort Chipewyan to GRAND PORTAGE (later to FORT WILLIAM) on Lake Superior created much of the romantic image of the fur trade. To maintain its Athabasca monopoly the NWC competed, at a loss if necessary, with its opponents on the Saskatchewan River, around Lake Winnipeg and north of the Great Lakes. On the North Saskatchewan River, the rival companies leapfrogged westward past each other's posts in an attempt to gain a commercial advantage with First Nations.
In all regions, small trading parties travelled en dérouine to waylay Aboriginal people's travel to rivals' posts and, when necessary, to force them to trade. In this competition the HBC appeared disadvantaged in spite of its having a major entrepôt, YORK FACTORY on Hudson Bay, much closer to the fur-gathering areas than was the NWC's transshipment point of Montréal.
The HBC lacked personnel and equipment equal to the tasks of inland travel and trade. Not until the 1790s did the HBC evolve the YORK BOAT brigade as an answer to its rival's canot de maître and canot du nord. Even then, improved equipment and personnel were not sufficient to turn the commercial tide in the company's favour.
Montréal agents such as Simon "The Marquis" MCTAVISH and his nephew and successor William MCGILLIVRAY shrewdly directed the NWC's affairs, but much of the company's success was due to the élan of its officers and employees (engagés). WINTERING PARTNERS participated in decision making and enjoyed the profits of the trade. Unlike the HBC, the NWC permitted all ranks to take Aboriginal wives à la façon du pays, a policy that resulted in a certain stability and a sizable MÉTIS population by the early 19th century. In 1789 Alexander MACKENZIE carried the company's flag to the Arctic Ocean, and in 1793 he reached the Pacific Ocean overland. Later explorers such as Simon FRASER and David THOMPSON opened up the fur lands west of the Rocky Mountains. The signing of JAY'S TREATY in 1794 ended the southwest trade, and a new rival, the XY COMPANY, appeared in 1798. But the NWC met its challenge and in 1804 absorbed this upstart.
Merger of the North West and Hudson's Bay Companies
It was the revitalization of the HBC beginning in 1810 that ultimately defeated the NWC. That year, the earl of SELKIRK's decision to establish a settlement in HBC territory led him to purchase sufficient stock to place 4 friends (two of them kinsmen) on the HBC's seven-man governing committee. These men, new to the company, emphasized efficiency in the trading process as the means to reduce costs and turn from loss to profit. Success in this endeavour led the company to attempt to invade the Athabasca country in 1815. Poor planning by the expedition's leader and the NWC's influence with the Aboriginal people in the region caused as many as 15 men to die of starvation. But the HBC, undaunted, returned a few months later and successfully challenged the NWC monopoly.
The governing committee gave Selkirk's RED RIVER COLONY assistance and co-operation, although officers in the region were unenthusiastic. The NWC saw the settlers as supporters of their newly revitalized commercial rival, and convinced the local Métis, who had settled the region earlier, that their lands were threatened. Commercial conflict erupted in violence when the colony's governor and some 20 other settlers and HBC servants died in the SEVEN OAKS INCIDENT on 19 June 1816; the Métis lost only one man. Such occurrences led the British government to demand that the competing fur companies resolve their differences. To this end the government passed legislation enabling it to offer an exclusive licence to trade for 21 years in those areas of British North America beyond settlement and outside Rupert's Land. In 1821 the two companies created the "Deed Poll," a document which outlined the terms of a coalition between them, detailed the sharing of the profits of the trade between the shareholders and individual officers in the field, and explained their relationship in the management of the trade. It was in this manner as well as in the sharing of profits that elements of the NWC survived in the new HBC, although what was a coalition in name became absorption by the HBC in fact when, in 1824, the board of management was eliminated. A majority of officers in the HBC after 1821 were former Nor'Westers.
Commercial agreements between two separate companies and the support given by government legislation and proclamation could not hide the NWC's defeat. The victorious HBC once again sought to increase its efficiency. Under the direction of Governor George SIMPSON, the "Little Emperor," the HBC achieved undreamed-of profits. But such profits required a constant monitoring of costs and a constant search for savings, as well as a policy of sharp competition with rivals in border areas. Through the company's policies and the actions of its personnel, the inhabitants of the old North-West had their initial exposure to the influence of changes wrought in Britain by the Industrial Revolution.
In monitoring the costs of the trade, Simpson clearly saw the importance of providing support to the Aboriginal people's hunting and trapping. In times of adversity the company offered medical services and sufficient supplies and provisions for the trapper and his family to survive. Yet in systematizing these services Simpson's policies led the Aboriginal people into an increasingly dependent relationship with the HBC. The Plains Aboriginal people, while the BUFFALO HUNT was still possible, could be independent of the company's services, but for others the new reality was increasingly economic dependence. Simpson's reforms, however, allowed HBC expansion along the Pacific coast, northward to the Arctic and into the interior of previously largely ignored Labrador. Such a vast fur domain attracted rivals.
Simpson's fundamental strategy was to meet competition in the frontier areas to preserve the trade of the interior. On the Pacific coast he reached an agreement with the Russian Fur Company permitting the HBC to pursue the maritime trade and successfully challenge the pre-eminence of the Americans. South and east of the Columbia River, he encouraged expeditions to trap the region clean in a "scorched-earth" policy that left no animals to attract American "mountain men" or trappers. In the Great Lakes area he licensed small traders to carry competition to the territory of the American Fur Company, eventually causing it to abandon the field for an annual payment of £300. Farther east, the opponents were more difficult to dislodge. The KING'S POSTS, a series of posts north of the St Lawrence originally belonging to the French king, had been granted in 1822 to a Mr Goudie of Québec City, and along the Ottawa River lumbering provided bases for competition to arise. Yet the company vigorously pursued its competitors in all the frontier areas, sustaining its monopoly of the trade in Rupert's Land and in the licensed territories to the north and west. Even when, in the 1830s, silk replaced felt as the favoured raw material in the manufacture of hats and beaver lost its value as a staple fur, the company maintained a profitable trade emphasizing fancy fur. Settlement, not commercial rivals, finally successfully challenged the company.
The Challenge of Settlement
West of the Rocky Mountains, American settlers succeeded where their predecessors, the mountain men and the ships' captains, had failed. As a result of the OREGON TREATY of 1846 the HBC retreated north of the 49th parallel of latitude. To the east, at Red River, the HBC met the challenge of free traders by charging Guillaume Sayer and 3 other Métis in 1849 with violation of the HBC monopoly. Although the company won a legal victory in the courtroom, the community believed that the free traders had been exonerated. Henceforth the company would meet the free traders with the techniques of competition learned elsewhere in its domain to slow the assault on the fur resources to the west and north. In Lower Canada the company had acquired the lease for the King's Posts in 1832, but the northward march of lumbermen signalled the lessening importance of the fur trade in this region. Simpson countered brilliantly by making his company an important supplier of goods needed by the lumbermen.
When the geographical isolation of the West was breached in the 1840s, metropolitan institutions other than the fur interests became involved in opening the "Great Lone Land." Roman Catholic and Anglican missionaries who had appeared earlier now penetrated to the heart of the continent. They were followed by adventurers and government expeditions (eg, the PALLISER EXPEDITION) seeking resources other than fur. Simpson's death in 1860 and the sale in 1863 of the HBC to the International Financial Society, a British investment group that saw settlement as a source of profits, marked the beginning of the end of the historic fur trade. In 1870 the HBC's vast territory in the West was transferred to Canada, and what had been a trickle of settlers coming from Ontario became a flood. As settlement spread north and west, the HBC and rival free traders intensified the northward push of the trade, and eventually established enduring trading contacts with the Inuit.
In the face of competition and the presence of the Canadian government, the HBC reduced the support services that had been a part of its trading relationship with the First Nations and had buffered the Aboriginal people against the swings of fur-market demands in western Europe. In the 20th century, fortunes in the fur trade came to reflect the swings of the market and the advent of FUR FARMING (see FUR INDUSTRY). Increasingly the Aboriginal people looked to the missions and even more to the government for support in times of adversity. This shift culminated in the granting of family allowance, schooling and pensions after the Second World War, and marked the end of the historic fur trade. FUR TRAPPING continues as a cash crop in frontier areas, but as a way of life it is confined to a few northern areas.
Historically, however, the fur trade played a formative role in the creation of Canada. It provided the motive for the exploration of much of the country and remained the economic foundation for western Canada until about 1870. The fur trade also determined the relatively peaceful patterns of Aboriginal-European relations in Canada. A central social aspect of this economic enterprise was extensive intermarriage between traders and Aboriginal women, which gave rise to an indigenous fur-trade society that blended Aboriginal and European customs and attitudes.
JOHN E. FOSTER
Author JOHN E. FOSTER, W.J. ECCLES
W.J. Eccles, The Canadian Frontier 1524-1760 (rev ed, 1983) and Canadian Society During the French Regime (1968); D. Francis, Battle for the West (1982); C. Gilman, Where Two Worlds Meet (1982); R. Glover, "Introduction" in E.E. Rich, ed, Andrew Graham's Observations on Hudson's Bay 1767-91 (1969); H. Innis, The Fur Trade in Canada (1930); G.L. Nute, The Voyageur (1931); A.J. Ray, Indians in the Fur Trade (1974); E.E. Rich, The Fur Trade and the Northwest to 1857 (1967); Sylvia Van Kirk, "Many Tender Ties" (1980).
Links to Other Sites
The website for the Historica-Dominion Institute, parent organization of The Canadian Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. Check out their extensive online feature about the War of 1812, the "Heritage Minutes" video collection, and many other interactive resources concerning Canadian history, culture, and heritage.
Canadian Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge
The website for the Canadian Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge, which features Canada's largest essay writing competition for Aboriginal youth (ages 14-29) and a companion program for those who prefer to work through painting, drawing and photography. See their guidelines, teacher resources, profiles of winners, and more. From the Historica-Dominion Institute.
Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre
Explore the history, culture, and ecology of Canada's North at the website for the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. Check out "Inuvialuit Place Names" for interactive maps and interesting historical details about numerous sites throughout this vast region.
This beautifully illustrated site explores the relationship between East and West from earliest times to the present with a focus on the very complex Asian experience in Canada. Search for specific topics and themes. From the Historica-Dominion Institute.
In Pursuit of Adventure: The Fur Trade in Canada and the North West Company
An extensive website featuring digitized archival material related to the fur trade and its role in the early exploration, settlement, and economic development of Canada. From the McGill University Digital Collections Program.
Lessons from the Land: Idaa Trail
Take a virtual tour along the Idaa Trail, a traditional canoe route of the Tåîchô (Dogrib) people in the Northwest Territories. Click on the names along the trail to learn about the history of each site. See the teachers' guide and other sections of the extensive Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre website for more information.
The Canadian West
View an extensive collection of historical photographs and other archive material about European settlement of the Canadian West prior to the 1930s. From Library and Archives Canada.
Exploration, the Fur Trade and Hudson's Bay Company
This nicely illustrated website chronicles the turbulent early years of Canada’s fledgling fur trade. Features stories about European explorers, Aboriginal communities, the North West Company, and the Hudson’s Bay Company. Also includes online maps, teacher materials, and links to primary sources in the Early Canadiana Online database.
Médard Chouart Des Groseilliers
This site documents the role of Médard Chouart Des Groseilliers in establishing the fur trade in Canada. From the Virtual Museum of New France.
Hudson's Bay Company Archives
A comprehensive information source about the history of the Hudson’s Bay Company and the fur trade in Canada. A Manitoba Government website.
Peter Skene Ogden
A biography of Peter Skene Ogden. From the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.
Sir George Simpson
Search the "Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online" for a profile of Sir George Simpson, former governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company.
Fort Chambly National Historic Site of Canada
The website for the Fort Chambly National Historic Site of Canada. Features a history of the region with references to Samuel de Champlain, New France, the fur trade, the Seven Years' War, and related topics.
Métis Nation In Canada
This website about the Métis Nation focuses on the vital role of Métis women in the fur trade. A Fur Institute of Canada website.
The Fur Trade at Lachine National Historic Site of Canada
This Parks Canada website offers a brief overview of the role of women in Canada’s fur trade.
The Women of Aspenland
This virtual exhibit documents the lives of 170 Alberta women and the historical role of women in Alberta society. A Heritage Community Foundation website.
Fort Langley National Historic Site
This website focuses on the history of Fort Langley, early British settlements on the west coast, and Hudson’s Bay Company activities in the region. From Parks Canada.
Fort Battleford National Historic Site
This Parks Canada site commemorates the 1876 North West Mounted Police headquarters in Battleford, Saskatchewan. Includes detailed notes about Big Bear, Poundmaker, the Cree, Sir Frederick Dobson Middleton, North-West Rebellion, the Battle of Cut Knife, and related topics.
Carlton Trail - First Western Highway
Check out the colourful history of the Carlton Trail, the first highway west of Winnipeg. A Manitoba Historical Society website.
Fort George and Buckingham House
Explore the role of historic Fort George and Buckingham House in Canada’s fur trade. From Alberta’s Heritage Community Foundation.
This fascinating website about the “Montreal Canoe”, the largest birchbark vessel ever used in Canada, features a collection of historical paintings depicting this splendid vessel. From the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
Fort William Historical Park
The website for Fort William Historical Park, a major tourist attraction devoted to re-creating the days of the North West Company. Click on "Explore" for an interactive multimedia tour of the historical structures on this site. Click on "Hinge of an Empire" for a preview of a film that depicts the evolution of the fur trade and the roles of the North West Company and Fort William in early Canadian history and development.
Raid on Deerfield
A narrated history of the 1704 Raid on Deerfield and its aftermath from Native and European perspectives. Also features fascinating stories about Native societies, cultures, trade practices, and traditions. This multimedia website is from the Memorial Hall Museum in Deerfield, Massachusetts.
Native Technology in the Fur Trade
This teacher's guide highlights innovative native technology. From the York Region District School Board.
Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History
Solve some the "Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History." Learn about investigative techniques and Canadian history. From the University of Victoria.
A profile of Samuel Hearne from the “Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.”
Hudson's Bay Company: Heritage
This colourful HBC website documents over 300 years of company history. Features illustrated biographies of prominent personalities, an online art collection, e-books, historical games, timelines, interactive maps, and much more.
Prince of Wales's Fort
This story offers fascinating details about daily life in an 18th century Hudson’s Bay fur trading post. From the Manitoba Historical Society.
Hudson's Bay Company ends its fur trade
Hudson's Bay Company was created in 1670 to trade animal pelts for goods at remote outposts across North America. This 1991 CBC news story focuses on the company’s decision to discontinue selling furs in its retail stores.
Atlas of Alberta Railways
Climb aboard the "Atlas of Alberta Railways" website for a fascinating multimedia tour of Alberta history. This site will take you to a great collection of fascinating maps, old newspaper articles, scenic photographs, charts, graphs, and much more. From the University of Alberta Press.
Angulalik Kitikmeot Fur Trader
Learn about Inuit fur traders, the Hudson's Bay Company, and more at this multimedia website from the Kitikmeot Heritage Society.
Four Directions Teachings
Elders and traditional teachers representing the Blackfoot, Cree, Ojibwe, Mohawk, and Mi’kmaq share teachings about their history and culture. Animated graphics visualize each of the oral teachings. This website also provides biographies of participants, transcripts, and an extensive array of learning resources for students and their teachers. In English with French subtitles.
Ottawa River Heritage Designation Committee
The ORHDC website offers an extensive description of river ecology and the history of First Nations and European habitation of the region.
Fur Trade Stories
The "Fur Trade Stories" website, a unique presentation of primary and secondary resources found in the collections of Canada's National History Society, HBCA - Archives of Manitoba, The Manitoba Museum, Parks Canada and several First Nations communities. From Canada’s National History Society.
A Story of Beat Meat (Pemmican)
Peruse this article about pemmican, the dried and powdered meat of the buffalo, which became the staple food of the fur trade from Rainy Lake to the Rockies. From the website for the Manitoba Historical Society.
History and Archaeology of Cumberland House
A detailed history and archaeology of Cumberland House accompanied by learning activities, a timeline, brief glossary, and an extensive bibliography. From “The Virtual Museum of Métis History and Culture.”
Naming of Fort Chipewyan
Learn about the origin of the name of the historic community of Fort Chipewyan. From Alberta’s Heritage Community Foundation.
Archaeology: Fur Trade and Archaeology in Alberta
About the historical significance of fur trade archaeological sites in Alberta. From the website for the Royal Alberta Museum.
Facts of Fur Types
Facts on types of fur found in the fur trade. From the website for the International Fur Trade Federation.
Glossary: Hudson’s Bay Company
A bilingual glossary of key terms found the Hudson’s Bay Company records. From the website for the Hudson's Bay Company Archives. A PDF file.
Glossary: North West Company
A glossary of special fur trade terms and indexes to personal names, geographical place names and native tribes. A website from McGill University.
Fur Trade Facts
A glossary of terms commonly used in reference to the history of Canada's fur trade. From the website for Alberta's Heritage Community Foundation.
Fur Trade Facts
This site offers definitions of terms commonly used in the fur trade during the 19th century. From the website for Fort William Historical Park in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
A Trading Nation Canadian: Trade Policy from Colonialism to Globalization
Extensive online excerpts from Michael Hart's book, a survey of the history and political economy of Canadian trade policy. From Google Books.
The Old Post and Village
The website for The Old Post and Village fishing resort, located on remote Lake St. Joseph in northern Ontario. Click on the "About Us" button for links to articles about the fascinating history of the region.
Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site of Canada
This site describes the fascinating history of the British-built Fort St. Joseph, located on St. Joseph Island in Ontario. From Parks Canada.
A biography of John McLoughlin, physician, fur trader, and merchant. From the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.
A brief history of fur trade activity in the Edmonton region of Alberta. From the River Valley Alliance.
What is a fur trader?
Profiles of some of the hardy and savy personalities that spearheaded the development of the North West Company in early Canadian History. From "In Pursuit of Adventure: The Fur Trade in Canada and the North West Company," a McGill University website.
Shawnadithit grew anxious waiting for her uncle, Longnon, to return to camp at the junction of Badger Brook and the Exploits River, deep in the wilds of Newfoundland...