Buffalo Robe Trade

In western Canada, the export trade in buffalo robes, hides with the hair left on, was first promoted by the HUDSON'S BAY CO in the 1830s as part of a campaign to keep American traders south of the 49th parallel. There never was a European market but in the 1870s robes became very popular in eastern Canada and the US as sleigh throws. Americans most aggressively exploited the resource.

Robes were the key point of interest concerning western Canadian relationships among the HBC, the Canadian government and the Americans in the 1870s, and the trade was the basis for the debilitating alcohol trade in the period. Robes were the first commodity directly exported from the West to eastern Canada. The robe trade was the major factor in the disappearance of the Canadian BISON herds. It collapsed in a market glut in the mid-1870s.