The Story of the Canadian Fur Trade

The Advantages came with Consequenses

The Fur Trade's Northwest Consequences

The new expansion of the fur trade into the west also brought quite a few problems to the two biggest fur trading companies, the HBC and NWC. The distance between western fur trades and trading posts like York meant that the voyageurs, people who were hired to transport goods from trading post to trading post had to travel long distances and back to pick up and sell fur. By expanding to new areas and meeting new natives, the fur traders brought European diseases to non immune natives which caused many deaths, whole reducing villages to nearly no one. As well as having fur traders expand into their territory, the First Nations were forced into the fur trade and had their usual way of life changed by how involved they became in the fur trade business with the Europeans, even buying items from trading posts instead of making them themselves, which was what they had done for hundreds of years before.

In some areas, the animals which of course was what the fur trade was built on, were nearly hunted to extinction, forcing new areas to be explored for furs. The animals which were hunted for furs were also a food source for the fur traders, many of them began to rely on First Nations women for food and for repairing the canoes which would transport them to new areas for furs. Europeans also began to marry First Nations women for one of the reasons being their knowledge of the areas where furs were found, which eventually created new people, the Metis.

The North West 1800-1860

During the harsh winters of The Northwest the fur traders survived by marrying First Nations women, who's skills and knowledge of both the fur trade and the environment helped them and the fur trade survive. This also helped to keep peace as it strengthened relations between the Europeans and the First Nations, which proved useful since the fur traders found their fur on First Nations land. While this idea of marrying First Nations women was widely accepted and even encouraged by the NWC, it was not approved by the HBC, however the fur traders were so remote and isolated that the HBC couldn't enforce it and eventually both the NWC and HBC traders both were mainly marrying First Nations women, which eventually created the Metis people.

The Selkirk Settlement

Around the end of the 1700's Scottish farmers started to be evicted because the Scottish government wanted to convert farmland into sheep pastures since wools were worth more than agriculture. In reply, Thomas Douglas, fifth Earl of Selkirk, began establishing colonies in British North America so they could be farmers instead of factory workers in Scottish cities. Since he was an HBC director he used his authority to establish these colonies in the Red River valley, due to its fertile soil, perfect for agriculture. The HBC granted him 300,000 square km in what was a part of Ruperts land. This colony unfortunately was thought to be a move to move the NWC and Metis out by the HBC, causing tension between both companies and leading to a 15 minute battle known as The Battle of The Seven Oaks. Thomas Douglas later returned to England after the colony had been established but was dumped with lawsuits by the NWC and later died in 1820, the same year that the HBC and NWC were forced to merge.