The Fur Trade in the History of Canada - Paper Example

Published: 2021-08-11
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Middlebury College
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The Fur Trade in the NorthEast, the North, the West, and on the West Coast from ca. 1600 to ca. 1840 in Canada

Canadas fur trade was inspired by the increased demand in European fur market. The French and English were depleting their fur supply and further emphasis on hunting activities presented a challenge that the trade would fail. Alternative supply from Russia meant expensive acquisition due to shipping budgets. Ideally, a new cost effective supply was necessary. The fur traders travelled into unknown territory, claiming new lands, encouraging settlement, bringing European influences to the Natives, establishing good relations with the local tribes and building permanent settlements. The existence of an expansive demand would determine the extents to which supply was sought. Geographically extensive explorations would be undertaken to open up Canadas interior and benefit the European from the used beaver fur. The fur trade would escalate quarrels between Montreals communities and the European influences as both entities pursued a scarce supply. The events of conflicts influenced the formation of healthy relations between the North and the West trading companies lobbied for regional dominance arrangements. Economic and military issues were sorted out through civilized arrangements where political solutions gained prominence. Such events were observed over two decades (1790-1810). The decades are a period when fur trade conflicts were characterized with institutional wars. Trade corporations were engaged in tassels through their agents. The companies belonged to European influences with the British taking on the initial explorations of the West. Contrary to the native middlemens way of trading and acquiring markets, the Europeans were blamed for funding war. They provided fire arms to rival communities as a way of enhancing their relationship with collaborating demographics.

The fur trade is, for good reason, symbolic of the history of Canada since the 1600s

The trade exposed Canada to European influences including the English and French. It was the basis for the formation of military alliances alongside establishing the aboriginal people as prominent middlemen. Wendat community played a key role in Canadas fur trade, it possessed longhouses. Longhouses are the modern day equivalent of warehouses and were used a storage for consignments. Europeans benefited from trading with the native communities of Canada in multiple ways. Notably, they exported status quo products to Canada and captured its market for gift items. Canadas native communities had a farfetched appetite for European products since they qualified as pricy impressive gifts. Ideally, the fur trade focused on acquisition of fur to be used by the Europeans while allowing French and English traders to serve the demand for gifts. The Wendat community was exploited as a means for opening up the routes for fur acquisition from the interior. They were wealthy and possessed crucial skill in farming that qualified as a source of corn. The community presented necessary commodities and intern achieved the French objective of opening up the North for fur trade. In essence, the North was the first interest in Canadas fur trade. The region, as occupied by the aboriginal people was an ideal source of quality used fur during the first half of the 17th century. The history of fur trade in Canada reveals the manner in which French influences gained residence. During the 17th century, Canadas demography was characterized by limited a population of French nationals and its economy principally depended on fur trade. The northern economy was populated with minimal agricultural produce and an abundance of fur allowing the French to cease their relationship with Wendat middlemen. Fur trade defined subsequent relationships between Europeans and native communities for a period in excess of two centuries.

The trade defined a period of changing and non-uniform relationship

Canadas fur trade was characterized with continuous evolution. Change affected the mannerisms of trade, market dominance, political relationships, economic interests, and military dominance. Commercial relations changed as the Europeans discontinued trading agenda involving specific communities such as the Wendat. Native people were exploited by foreigners and their trust betrayed further as French and English traders contracted rival communities to feed the fur demand. The Europeans emerged as dishonest and opportunist business partners. Other changes included the shift from one region to another with the intention of addressing fur supply deficits. The Europeans expanded the sphere of interest (geographically) to access new and more fur suppliers. In extension, they developed strategy to acquire other companys trading demography with militarization qualifying as a worthy strategy. The trade was initially run by the French nationals but later shifted to British interests. The 18th century was a period of British monopoly. Prominent aboriginal middlemen detested the European mannerisms of business but found little success in their efforts to remove foreign influences. Subsequently, a number of Europeans built their reputations as cross continent fur traders and explorers. There set up camps and grew in presence during the period marking an end to the 18th century and beginning of 19th century. The fur trade depended on natives as long distance travelers whose expeditions bridged the gap between supply and demand but encouraged hostilities as some entities were armed by the trading companies. A trade that was initially welcomed at the North gained acceptance with the North Easterners but encountered resistance among the people of the West. The West remained a dominant traditionalist region but refrained from conflicting with European fur traders for the better part of 17th and 18th century. Nevertheless, the last quarter of 18th and beginning of 19th century witnessed an eviction of European and American influences with the sole reason that such entities engaged in unethical transactions. The accusations included provocation of wars to commercialize weaponry among the aboriginal communities.

A definite list of facts reveals the impact of fur trade between ca. 1600 to ca. 1840

Fur trade was initially monopolized by the French. The arrival of English traders escalated the competitive trade environment and American interests were accompanied by militarization of allied aboriginal societies. 17th century trading thrived on discovery of new source of fur and positive relations with natives. Subsequent relations were characterized with conflict between trade companies as the scarce supply diminished further. Ultimately, desperate quest for the product was met with a motivation of violence during the fall of 18th century. A positive relationship was established between the Europeans and the northern communities. Aboriginal societies enjoyed closer markets at the Northern region but their sentiments were not shared by the West. The West projected hostility towards fur traders particularly from the 18th century. They felt that the moral standing of foreign traders was questionable and existence of unlimited populations challenged their dominance as an ethical community. Westerners prioritized expanding their geographical confines and felt that Europeans limited such success without offering assistance to achieve subject goals. The natives experienced an attitude change towards fur traders from welcoming to elimination of non-aboriginal residence. Aboriginal communities detested the workings of European and associate influences at the West to such extent that wars were waged. Conflict purposed to address the control over resources alongside liberation from societal corruption. The impact of fur trade supersedes socio-political issues to include environmental distress. Canada suffered environmental harm with wildcat populations diminishing significantly.

What are the main differences between the regional trade, the differences in French and English approach

The French adopted assimilation as a means of cultural influence over aboriginal traditions. They emphasized on used fur while the Brits encouraged hunting expeditions so as to feed the huge demand. The British were less interested in assimilation and emphasized on militarization of the aboriginal populations that supported them against French and American rivals. The English initially focused on developing trading and military partnerships with the natives. Such relations were ideal considering their occupation of a competitive commercial space. Fur trade supported the production of pricy clothing enjoyed by the elite. Subsequently, the stakes were high for all transacting entities especially due to the capitalism attitude.

Canadas fur trade impact on Aboriginal people/French/English

The French and English (British) sought beaver fur that was export to France and Britain for use in clothing industry as a fashionable fabric. Over two centuries, the society changed from custom driven to allow catholic configured culture formulations. Cultural practices dominated the ethics of fur trade regions from early 17th century with the introduction of Catholic Church affecting relations even more during the lapse of 18th century. Subject interactions gave rise to convenient dialect characterized with a fusion of multiple cultures. Therefore, fur trade facilitated cultural transition to allow multiracial residents socialization. Native women played a crucial role; they acted as social brokers. Marriages between Europeans and the aboriginal populations involved native women and foreign men. The women acquired status and legitimacy as cultural mediators.

Beyond dialectical fashions, an entire culture emerged due to intermarriage. French-Canadian fur traders forged relationships with the natives and gave rise to a Metis culture. The result was a configuration of new language and conformation to unique identity. Metis defined new culture and developed convenient technology that was manifest to modernized fur trade. Canadas fur trade had influenced its peoples cultural demographic and the definition of new culture responded by instituting better and more convenient mannerisms of business.

Influence was facilitated through the roles of Metis and wives of aboriginal origin. They affect the dealings of their partners and motivated cultural configuration. The outcome was a socially inclusive existence where all people had a direct or indirect role. Some entities supported trade, others refined process, and the rest detested its existence. Metis populations refined the process by introducing technologies such as the Red River Cart which doubled as a water vessel and ox driven vehicle.

The fur trade did not start in James Bay until the mid-17th century. During this colonialist period, the Hudsons Bay Company (HBC) laid claim to the region under royal charter in 1668. The administrative action held substantial implications on the role of tallymen. Westernization affected the implementation of ecological resource management strategies.

In conclusion, fur trade in the northeast, the North, the West, and on the west coast from ca. 1600 to ca. 1840 in Canada influenced the Nations social, political, economic, and environmental character. New cultures were formed, political relationships changed, a capitalism attitude developed among the aboriginal people, and massive environmental destruction was caused by excessive hunting. Ideally, the contemporary society borrows from the outcomes of that association.


Belshaw, John Douglas. Canadian History: Pre-Confederation., 2015.

Gordon, Catherine E., and Jerry P. White. "Indigeno...

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