Early Inland Trade
At this time, the fur trade inland was very
active. The NWC, Fort des Prairies (in the present day Edmonton area)
was a thriving concern, staffed in 1804 by six commis or clerks
and ten interpreters with two guides. Some of the interpreters were
perhaps the ancestors of the Métis families of Lac Ste Anne and St.
Albert: Louis Laliberte, Joseph Cardinal, Jean Baptiste Letendre, and
Louis Blondeau. In addition, Fort des Prairies had one hundred
and eight voyageurs.
After the HBC and NWC amalgamation there was no longer a need for
such a large number of employees. Out of work Métis families found
places and occupations for themselves in the fringes between the
Aboriginal and European cultures and communities. The men still had the
skills from their time in the trade and some of them found positions as
"trading captains" for Aboriginal bands. This meant they acted as
representatives for Aboriginal tribes to European traders. Others took
up freighting, hunting or fishing as their way of life. Some became free
traders, buying goods in bulk for their communities and traded them for
furs, provisions or buffalo robes. It had to appear that the individual
or family selling the country goods had hunted or trapped them,
themselves. This was the way of life until the trade monopoly of the
Hudson’s Bay Company was broken.
Early Great Lake Métis Links