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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 North West Company
The North West
Painted portrait of William McGillivary, who became the chief director to the North West Company in 1804.Following Peter Pondís discovery of the Portage-La-Loche in 1778, which gave access to the rich furs of the Athabasca basin, the newly established North West Company (NWC) from Montreal sent 300 Canadians into the region to man the brigades and carry furs midway through the portage.

In the wake of Pondís discovery, rival fur trade companies were created, notably the XY Company, (which was eventually absorbed by the NWC) as well as several American companies including the Pacific Northwest Company and the American Fur Company, both owned by John Jacob Astor. Series of fur trade forts were established in leapfrog fashion along the rivers of the Canadian Northwest, and although at times the employees of the various companies were friendly enough, strong rivalries prevailed. The rivalries often translated into violent confrontations, such as the Seven Oaks Incident (La GrenouillŤre) in 1816, between the NWC and the Hudsonís Bay Company men, in the Red River Colony. Peace was finally re-established with the amalgamation of the NWC into the HBC in 1821.


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