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Virtual Museum of Canada The Making of Treaty #8 in Canada's Northwest
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The Peoples, Their Places

The Métis Nation: Children of the Fur Trade


metis familyIn the hierarchical society of the fur trade companies, a man's class was based upon his occupation within the Northwest Company or the Hudson's Bay Company.  The Métis mostly took on the work that the French Canadian voyageurs had engaged in; they became canoemen, boatmen, labourers around the posts, as well as interpreters, hunters and guides.

Many mixed-blood children of Scots and English parentage, especially the male offspring of officers, were sent to the East or to Great Britain to be educated.  They became clerks, factors and sometimes high-ranking officers.  Throughout the history of Fort Dunvegan, only two mixed-bloods rose in the ranks.  George Simpson Jr. became a Chief Factor, and Albert Tate became a clerk; both were sons of high ranking officers.

Reprinted from "A Sense of the Peace," by Roberta Hursey with permission of the Spirit of the Peace Museums Association and the author.