Introduction • One of the earliest and most important industries in North America. • Began in 1500’s as a way of exchanging furs, and goods, between the Indians and the Europeans. • The fur trade industry has played a major role in the development and progression of the United States and Canada for over 300 years. • The Indians traded beaver pelts (which were thought as valuable during the early times) to the Europeans for goods such as tools and weapons. • The beaver pelts were made into beaver hats. Which was popular to the European population. • The trade ceased to be as important during the mid 1800’s due to the facts that the beaver became scare, and silk hats became more popular. • In this day and age, most trappers still sell all their furs. The Eskimos and Indian trappers still sell their furs to the fur companies for various goods.
Early Life • The fur trade started after the French offered the Indians goods such as kettles, tools, knifes and other gifts to start friendly relationships with them. • The Indians in turn gave the French pelts for these goods and offerings. • And so the fur trade began. These furs became increasingly more valuable during the early 1600’s in Europe. (The fashionable men began wearing beaver hats.) • Other furs were also traded, such as: fox, martin, mink and otter.
General Information • The fur trade led to disagreements between France and Great Britain in America. • Rivalries over trading alliances also arose among Indian tribes that wanted to obtain European goods. • Fur Trade promoted friendly relationships between Indians and whites.
WOMEN of the Fur Trade • The roles played by women in the fur trade were incredibly varied. • The shortage of white women in the fur trade, caused many men to marry Native or Mixed-blood women. By marrying a Native or Mixed-blood woman, fur traders strengthened trade ties with her Native tribe & family. The fur trader now had access to inside information on their culture and language. (Marriage) • In Native cultures, women usually set up camp, dressed furs, made leather, cooked meals, gathered firewood, made moccasins, netted snowshoes, and many other things that were essential to daily life for both Natives and fur traders. These were unfamiliar tasks for Europeans though.
Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) • Founded: May 2, 1670 • English • Natives brought their furs to the forts along the shore of Hudson’s Bay, where the English acted like shopkeepers. A problem however was that ‘pedlers’ intercepted the Natives before they got to Hudson Bay and traded for the furs. This caused much lots business for the HBC. • In 1774 Cumberland House was established, by Samuel Hearne. So that trade was farther located outward so it couldn’t be intercepted by ‘pedlers’. • HBC’s major post was YORK FACTORY in Hudson’s Bay • Both NWC and HBC had different management styles, operated in different languages, and followed different trade routes. • Each year, one or more HBC ships would sail from England to York Factory to bring a fresh supply of trade goods and take away the furs. • Most of the HBC's laborers had a basic education in reading and sums.
Northwest Company • NWC began with a numerous amount of independent pedlers coming together to form one group. They realized that if they didn’t stick together their would be big problems because of the competition of HBC. • The North West Company was a partnership between the Montreal agents, who purchased the trade goods and sold the furs, and the wintering partners, who stayed in the Northwest to carry out trade with the Natives. • Every summer, NWC agents and wintering partners would meet at company headquarters on Lake Superior. They discussed business while the voyageurs from the fur country exchanged their loads of furs with the trade goods brought by the voyageurs from Montreal. • After the meetings were over, the wintering partners and their voyageurs returned to the fur country with trade goods while the Montreal agents and voyageurs took the furs to Montreal.
1821 • The competition between the NWC and the HBC increased over the years causing problems. If one company set up a post in a different location, the other company wasn’t far behind. • The two fur companies knew something had to be done so the only option was to merge as one. • They were under the name of the HUDSON”S BAY COMPANY (HBC).
References • http://www.montanatrappers.org/history.htm • http://www.northwestjournal.ca/XIII2.htm • http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=a1ARTA0003112