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Alberta's Francophone Heritage
Background, People, Culture, Heritage Community Foundation, Albertasource and Alberta Lottery Fund


Francophone Edukit

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The French Fur Trade

New France, Fur
Trade and Exploration

The French Fur Trade

The Hudson's Bay Company


La Vérendrye and Western Exploration

The Métis

Events Abroad


Northern fur traders. Circa 1870s.In New France, the focus had been on a solid establishment of the colony along the St. Lawrence River and it was only after 1673 that the push for a permanent French presence deeper within the continent began to be officially encouraged. The enterprising Louis Buade, comte de Frontenac, who had become governor of New France, set up a trading post on Lake Ontario, a move which created considerable controversy at the time. Fully aware of the great profits yet to be made from the fur trade, Buade also backed his compatriot and contemporary, René-Robert, Cavelier de La Salle, on an official expedition for France. La Salle reached the delta of the Mississippi in 1682, and named its immense watershed, Louisiana, in honour of Louis XIV. In doing so, the immense hinterland of North America came under French control, and soon the fur trade was being practiced by the French from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.

With the legalization of the fur trade in New France came a rapid escalation in fur trade forts dealing with the carrying trade to the Saint Lawrence River. This occurred mostly in the Great Lakes region, with dozens of small companies plying the trade. The trade was also practised by a number of other individuals and companies in the Eastern and Northern basins of the continent. During the 18th century, the upper Mississippi basin became a very profitable source for furs. In this region, the trade was supplied with goods via New Orleans.


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