Chapter 4: the fur trade brought the Europeans and the First Nations together in harmony and sometimes in conflict. The Fur trade also brought about competition. Many developments in North America happened due to this competition

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The Fur Trade brought the Europeans and the First Nations together in harmony and sometimes in conflict. The Fur trade also brought about competition. Many developments in North America happened due to this competition.

Competition: In economic competition “winning” means controlling more wealth than others.

The Fur Trade and its development happened in Phases as the trade spread across the Continent.


1500-1603 WAS THE First Phase of the fur trade. The First Nations living on the coastal region of Eastern North America began trading with the fishers. The French would come to shore to replenish their fresh water and trade with the First Nations. The English would come ashore to dry their catch and trade with the First Nations.


1603-1670 France dominated the fur trade during this time. France had made the fur trade the center of the colonies economy. With permanent settlements at Quebec and Montreal and a strong trading relationship with the “Huron” Nation the Fur Trade was very successful.

The French went to war with the enemy of the “huron” the Haudenosaunee. The English backed the Haudenosaunee in this struggle.

One big difference between the French and the English revolved around religion. The English cared little about Christianizing the First Nations, However, this was very important to the French. Jesuit Missionaries were sent deep into First Nations lands to start converting the First Nations. Courer de Bois were also trading with the First Nations until France made their business illegal.

As food and furs became scarce the French began to look towards the Great Lakes.


1670-1760 The English establish the Hudson Bay Company in the area known as Rupert’s Land. This area circles what is now Hudson Bay. The English grant a monopoly to the founder of the HBC. This company was to compete with France for revenue (money) generated by the Fur Trade.

New “middle men” emerge as contact with First Nations from what is now Manitoba and Saskatchewan are required to continue the fur trade. These Middle Men travel deeper into the Continent to acquire furs and bring them to trade with the French and now British.

Voyageurs are used by both England and France to carry supplies deep into the west and to bring back the precious furs. A new culture begins to emerge at this time as well. The English and French Voyageurs take First Nations wives and their children become known as Métis, people of mixed blood.


1760-1821 In 1763 the Peace of Paris ended the 7 years war between France and England. As part of this treaty all of the French colonies in North America were handed over to the British. The British focus was on land and farming, this pushed the fur traders off the land.The merchants began to compete against the Hudson Bay company for a share of the fur trade. They formed a new company, The North West Company, and drove the fur trade farther west as both companies looked for fresh supplies of furs and new First Nations contacts.

As the routes that carried furs from the West to Montreal and Quebec grew longer, the Voyageurs and freighters needed food that would last on long trips. The Cree, Blackfoot and Nakoda supplied them with pemmican.A new trade center emerged to supply the westward expansion at Red River in what is now Manitoba. The Métis established this settlement. The Métis became a key player in the fur trade. Missionaries also moved West to convert the plains First Nations.


1821-1870 The HBC and the NWC had numerous “run ins” during their competitive years. In 1821 the British government forced them to merge. Independent Métis traders won a court case against the HBC’s monopoly. They were supplying American fur traders with furs and supplies and the British now feared that Americans would gain control of Rupert’s Land.

As the Buffalo began to disappear and the demand for furs dropped in Europe the British Government helped the HBC negotiate the sale of Rupert’s Land to the newly formed Canadian Government. The Canadian Government would rename the entire area the North West Territories.

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