Fur Trade Educational Package

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.

Our Thanks

We are grateful to the Department of Canadian Heritage for their support of this educational initiative.

Lesson Plans

Fur Trade Timeline

In this lesson, students will play a class game of “I Have... Who Has?” and create a timeline for Canada’s fur trade.

The Last Battle of Seven Oaks Puppet Play

In this lesson, students will create and perform a puppet play about the Battle of Seven Oaks.

Fur Trader Game

In this lesson, students will learn about life as a voyageur’s family during the Fur Trade and then will play the Fur Trade Game where they collect “furs” to trade for items from a “trading post.”

Explore the Role of Blacks in the Fur Trade Industry

These lessons will provide students with the opportunity to explore and investigate interactions among Europeans, Blacks and Indigenous peoples, with a focus on delving deeper into the often untold experience of Black fur traders as the primary focus.

The Historical Exploration Continues

This lesson focuses on exploring what is known about specific Black fur traders, learning more about their life and character, and applying this knowledge to illustrate why they were qualified for various jobs at the Hudson’s Bay Company or North West Company. 

Classroom Activities

Turning Points in the Fur Trade

In this activity, students will explore key turning points in the fur trade and determine the impact of these events on different groups in Canada.

Trading Places

In this activity, students will learn more about the impact of the fur trade in their community by visiting or researching a local historic site.

Exploring the role of Black Fur Traders

In these activities students will demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the role of Black fur traders.