Before the fur trade, the First Nations Peoples had established trading patterns and practices that were then used effectively once the European traders arrived in the east.
The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) was established in 1670 and established a fur trading post at the Hudson’s Bay. First Nations traders brought furs to the post at the Hudson’s Bay as the company’s employees did not leave the confines of the post.
French traders had been trading by traveling from Montreal to the west. After the British defeated the French in 1763 and took control of Canada, Scottish traders established the North West Company (NWC) that aggressively established forts in the west that intercepted the flow of furs to the Hudson’s Bay.
In 1801, the XY Company was established in Montreal by former employees of the NWC. The XY Company competed for furs in the west for a few years until it merged with the NWC.
From 1802 to 1821, the HBC established fur trading posts in the west and carried out intense competition with the NWC. In 1821, the competition was costing both companies too much and they merged under the name of the Hudson’s Bay Company.
From 1861 to the 1900s there was a series of Free Traders who were not associated with the Hudson’s Bay Company.
The fur trade was modified over the years as trappers have changed from beaver pelts to fox, wolf, lynx, marten, fisher, and mink. The fur trade continues today as an important part of the economy, especially for First Nations and Métis Peoples.
The Métis continue to play an important role in Alberta history. The Métis find their roots in the fur trade as the sons and daughters of First Nations Peoples and European traders. The Métis have their own communities in the province.
As the fur trade developed, missionaries came into the west and lived among the First Nations Peoples and the Métis. They have left a legacy that includes the development of a written form of the languages of the First Nations Peoples.
The fur trade played an important role in the development of the Peace River country. The fur trade opened the north to trade and communication, and was the first step in the development of the region.