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The Métis in Western Canada: O-Tee-Paym-Soo-Wuk

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The BeginningsThe People and Their CommunitiesCulture and Lifeways

Commercial trade between Aboriginal and European people began almost with their first encounter in the sixteenth century. The Fur Trade Era, which lasted approximately 250 years, can be divided into three periods: the French Era (c.1600 – 1760), the British Era (c.1760-1815), and the American Era (c.1816-1850).1 Trade developed between European fishermen and Aboriginal groups as the fishery gradually moved inland. The fishermen traded pots, kettles, and glass beads, among other things, for furs. As fashion for fur-trimmed accessories took hold of the European continent, demand for these furs outstripped supply in Europe, making North America the principal source for furs.2 Up until this point the fur trade was simply an extension of the fishery.

With little support from France, New France was reliant on its relationship with Aboriginal traders.  John Dickensen and Brian Young have stated that, "Until the mid-seventeenth century, Europeans were a small minority in the continent who had to adjust to the native ways of conducting trade and war."3 Initially the French government sought to control trade by granting temporary monopolies along with large land grants for colonization to members of the nobility. This proved to be an ineffective strategy and was replaced by a more open policy of granting charters or trading rights to companies and to merchant-traders. Some anthropologists argue that this almost total reliance on Aboriginal groups for trade also resulted in a permeation of Aboriginal social arrangements and religion by the Europeans.4

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Liens Rapides


Montreal Peddlers

North West Company

Hudson's Bay Company

Geography and Ecology

The Trade


Buffalo Rope Trade

Company Employment (Wage Labour)

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