The Fur Trade Currency

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					    The Fur Trade

The sixteenth century to late
    nineteenth century.
               Pre Contact
Before European contact the Indigenous
 peoples of the Americas people survived by
 using resources off of the land.

In this time period there were systems of
  governance established and a strong culture
  which was both respected and celebrated.
        Ships along the coast
• In the early sixteen hundreds European ships
  sailed the coasts of North and South America,
  looking for a way across the land between
  them and China.
• In 1610 Captain Henry Hudson sailed his ship
  into a northern strait which led into a wide
  bay. The next time Europeans came into
  Hudson Bay, nearly 50 years later, the sailors
  were looking for fur not China.
               The Nonsuch
• King Charles of England asked a number of
  wealthy Englishmen as well the Frenchmen
  Radisson and Groseillier to sail ships into the
  bay. They were hoping to bring back many
  furs, however storms and ice turned the first
  ship back to England. In September 1668 a
  second ship named the Nonsuch reached the
  bay safely with Groseillier on board.
         Men on the Nonsuch
• The crew from the Nonsuch built a small fort
  where they lived for the winter and in the
  spring the Indigenous people came to trade
  their furs.
• In June of 1669 the Nonsuch sailed back to
  England, arriving in October.The owners of the
  Nonsuch were so pleased with the furs that
  they decided to form a company that would
  send ships every year to trade on the bay.
              The Monopoly
• The king gave the newly formed company a
  monopoly of trade in the area. This meant
  that no one else would be allowed to trade
  there. All of the collected furs must only be
  sold to the Hudson Bay Company.
   The North American Fur Trade
• Trading was not a foreign concept to
  Indigenous people as they traded amongst
  themselves, everything from copper tools to
              Trading Posts
• At first the Europeans returned to England
  with the ships each year. Soon the Hudson Bay
  Company began building trading posts which
  allowed the Europeans to live at the post all
  year round.
                 The Métis
• Many of the European men developed
  relationships with Indian women and the
  resulting children came to be called Métis.
  Métis people were valuable during the fur
  trade as they could speak the languages of the
  indigenous people and were reliable and
                The Beaver
• The beaver has two kinds of fur. Next to its
  skin is a warm woolly coat however over this
  wool grows the long silky guard hairs.

• The supply of fur-bearing animals in
  western Europe was largely exhausted
  however fur was still a symbol of elegance
  and wealth.
The Indigenous people did not use money in
their trading but the Europeans used a
currency system. In the trading between
these two groups the beaver pelt became the
currency system.
          Currency continued
• Tokens were made and items to be traded
  were measured against the value of a beaver

• For example, four martins were equal to one
           System of currency
• European traders brought along with them a
  number of items, which they knew, would
  assist Indigenous people in their daily lives
  and these items had a trading value in terms
  of beaver pelts. For example in one list of the
  value of goods one gun cost 12 beaver pelts.
     French Fur Traders go west.
• Fur traders from New France (Quebec)
  paddled their canoes south west to trade. A
  difference between these traders and the
  Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) traders is that
  they were mobile when trading and met the
  Indigenous people to trade rather than
  waiting for them to come to a trading post.
        French Traders go west.
• Among the traders who travelled west was
  Pierre Gaultier de Varenesse, Sieur de La
  Verendrye and his 50 men.

• La Verendrye built a number of trading posts
  along the rivers for the Indigenous people to
  bring their furs to the French instead of taking
  the furs as far as the Hudson Bay.
             French Traders
• The French soon became a strong force in the
  west and posts have been built as far as the
  Saskatchewan river.

• There is a constant battle for power between
  the French and English. The French captured
  the English post on Hudson Bay and the
  English captured Quebec.
             The Final Battle
• A seven year war between France and
  England in the 17th century put the fur trade
  on hold.

• The Treaty of Paris at the end of the seven
  year war put an end to France's position as a
  major colonial power in the Americas
          North West Company
• Fur traders from the British colony began to
  travel towards the western plains looking for
  furs. At first most of these peddlers worked by
  themselves, travelling for long periods of time
  to the western plains and back to Montreal.
         North West Company
• In 1784 many of the peddlers formed the
  North West Company (NWC) and a few years
  later another large groups of traders joined
  the newly formed company.
• NWC had two partners, Montreal partners
  who sold furs and bought trade goods, as well
  as partners who stayed in the west and traded
  with indigenous people. These workers were
  known as the wintering partners.
             HBC and NWC
• In 1821 the two companies decided to end
  their competition for the furs and join
  together under one name.

• The new company would still be known as the
  Hudson’s Bay Company because it was the
  HBC that, under the Royal Charter, still
  controlled the route from the Hudson Bay.
        Ending of the Fur Trade
The fur trade had slowly dissolved, partially due
  to the lack of furs and also the lack of
  Indigenous people who were willing to assist
  in trapping and trading the furs. The change
  in style in Europe from fur to silk was the final
  blow to the North American Fur Trade.

At the end of the fur trade many traders went to
  work on the rail road, mining and lumbering.
  Neering, Rosemary. The Fur Trade. Markham,
  Ont.: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1985.
        References Continued.

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