When we talk about the fur trade, we mean a time starting in the late 1600s when companies based in Europe spread throughout what is now Canada. They traded with Indigenous people for animal fur, mostly from beavers but from other animals, too.
The Hudson’s Bay Company, often called HBC, is one of the oldest companies in the world. It got its start trading furs in 1670. Others such as the North West Company followed, and so did bitter fights over furs.
Canada would be a very different place without the fur trade, but the lives of Indigenous people would also be completely different. The fur trade brought them useful tools as well as hard times. And a new people, the Métis, emerged as the fur trade reached its height in the 1700s and 1800s.
Knowing about the fur trade and how it shaped Canada helps us understand who we are as a country and how we got that way.
This edition of Kayak shares some amazing stories and examples of how the fur trade worked, who kept it going, and the impact it left behind.