The Great Fur Trade Companies

The Great Fur Trade Companies

Table of Contents

The period of the 1850s was thus one of migration for the Métis, many of whom drifted and established new communities or settled within existing Canadian, American or Indian communities. Most Spanish trade was limited with Indians on the coast until expeditions inland in the beginning of the 17th century. By 1639, substantial trade between the Spanish in Florida and the Native Americans for deerskins developed, with more interior tribes incorporated into the system by 1647. Many tribes throughout the southeast began to send trading parties to meet with the Spanish in Florida, or used other tribes as middlemen to obtain manufactured goods.

This pattern – unusually large returns in the late 1740s and low returns thereafter – indicates that the beaver in the Fort Albany region were being seriously depleted. The Hudson’s Bay Company and the Compagnie d’Occident, although similar in title, had very different internal structures. The English trade was organized along hierarchical lines with salaried managers, whereas the French monopoly issued licenses (congés) or leased out the use of its posts. The structure of the English company allowed for more control from the London head office, but required systems that could monitor the managers of the trading posts . The leasing and licensing arrangements of the French made monitoring unnecessary, but led to a system where the center had little influence over the conduct of the trade.

Also find spoken pronunciation of fur trader in Kannada and in English language. Meaning and definitions of fur trader, translation in Chinese language for fur trader with similar and opposite words. Also find spoken pronunciation of fur trader in Chinese and in English language.

Synonyms For Trade

Average returns over the rest of the decade were 25,000; the average during the 1750s was 18,000, and just 15,500 in the 1760s. The pattern of beaver returns at York Factory – high returns in the early 1740s followed by a large decline – strongly suggests that, as in the Fort Albany hinterland, the beaver population had been greatly reduced. These were called “felt hats.” Unfortunately, aggregate consumption series for the eighteenth century Europe are not available. We do, however, have Gregory King’s contemporary work for England which provides a good starting point. In a table entitled “Annual Consumption of Apparell, anno 1688,” King calculated that consumption of all types of hats was about 3.3 million, or nearly one hat per person. King also included a second category, caps of all sorts, for which he estimated consumption at 1.6 million (Harte, 1991, p. 293). This means that as early as 1700, the potential market for hats in England alone was nearly 5 million per year.

  • As a consequence, the early felting trades in England and France had to rely on beaver wool imported from Russia, although they also used domestic supplies of wool from other animals, such rabbit, sheep and goat.
  • Indeed, in the early history of the United States, capitalizing on this trade, and removing the British stranglehold over it, was seen[by whom?
  • Parchment beaver were from freshly caught animals, whose skins were simply dried before being presented for trade.
  • Their other major goal, of course, was to convert tribal people to Christianity.
  • When food was scarce, as the trappers said, “meat was meat.” By this they meant that in hard times they would eat just about anything.
  • Following Ray’s position, Bruce M. White also helped to create a more nuanced picture of the complex ways in which native populations fit new economic relationships into existing cultural patterns.
  • The most important of these arrangements led to the formation of the Northwest Company, which for the first two decades of the nineteenth century, competed with the Hudson’s Bay Company .

Thus the closer is a system to open access the more likely it is that the resource will be depleted. Until the 1720s, beaver felt was produced with relatively fixed proportions of coat and parchment skins, which led to periodic shortages of one or the other type of pelt. The constraint was relaxed when carotting was developed, a chemical process by which parchment skins were transformed into a type of coat beaver. The original carrotting formula consisted of salts of mercury diluted in nitric acid, which was brushed on the pelts.

Definitions For Fur Tradefur Trade

This was also done because both legal and illegal traders had so glutted the French market that fur prices dropped significantly. This policy proved futile, for Frenchmen continued to enter the Great Lakes region for furs. The fur trade was restored in 1715, and although colonial officials in New France tried to curb the emigration of young Frenchmen into the Great Lakes region, these efforts bore no fruit. This particularly bothered officials in New France because the coureurs de bois usually sold their furs to English traders at Albany.

Once the furs entered the hatting industries of France or Britain, some were reserved for local consumption, while still others were prepared for export. Traded through each mother country’s colonial networks as well as abroad, hats were exported across the continent and back across the Atlantic to the Americas. It is not at all inconceivable to trace the path of a beaver pelt from British Canada, to England, through to Russia via Amsterdam, back to Britain, onto Spain, and further forward, as a hat, to the Spanish colonies in South and Central America. The decline in its population of furry animals coincided with the French discovery of rich beaver lands in Canada, and with Henry Hudson’s charting of the Hudson River.

Frank D. Lewis, Queens University

The fur trade began in the 1500’s as an exchange between Indians and Europeans. Beaver fur, which was used in Europe to make felt hats, became the most valuable of these furs. The fur trade prospered until the mid-1800’s, when fur-bearing animals became scarce and silk hats became more popular than felt hats made with beaver. Eskimo and Indian trappers in Canada still trade their furs to fur companies for various goods. Starting in the mid-16th century, Europeans traded weapons and household goods in exchange for furs with Native Americans in southeast America. The trade originally tried to mimic the fur trade in the north, with large quantities of wildcats, bears, beavers, and other fur bearing animals being traded. The trade in fur coat animals decreased in the early 18th century, curtailed by the rising popularity of trade in deerskins.

The most significant trading center in the upper Great Lakes was at the Straits of Mackinac. Most traders in Wisconsin lived at the old French settlements of Green Bay and Prairie du Chien. So many new traders entered the region that cutthroat competition soon became a problem. To curb competition and increase profits, British traders in Canada began to pool their resources. In 1779, the famous North West Company was formed, and in 1798 a rival, the XY Company, arose. In southern Wisconsin, a group of merchants created the Michilimackinac Company in 1806 to monopolize the trade.

At other times he patched up his differences with the English in the hope that the owners of the Hudson’s Bay Company would give him justice. Their greedy behavior toward Radisson is the one great blot on the record of these “gentlemen” adventurers, who were usually just and honorable. Taking advantage of their great success, the Gentlemen Adventurers at once applied for a royal charter of exclusive monopoly covering the regions draining into Hudson Bay. The company had power to govern, to exclude or admit settlers, and to make war.

European Intermediaries In The Fur Trade

One, with Radisson aboard, had to turn back, but the other, the Nonsuch, with Groseilliers, did penetrate the Bay. There, trading natives were contacted, a fine cargo of beaver skins was collected, and the expedition returned to London in October 1669. The delighted investors now sought a royal charter, which was obtained the next year. By it, the Hudson’s Bay Company was established, and was granted a monopoly to trade into all the rivers that fall into Hudson Bay.

Who participated in the fur trade?

After the War of 1812 there were three main parties involved in the Upper Mississippi fur trade: Native Americans (primarily the Dakota and Ojibwe), the fur trading companies, and the US government. These parties worked together and each had something to gain from a stable trading environment.

Dismissing the experience of individuals, the authors searched for connections on a global stage that revealed its “high political and economic importance.” E.E. Rich brought the economic purview down a level, focusing on the role of trading companies and their men as the ones who “opened up” much of Canada’s territories, instead of on the role of the nation-state in opening up the continent. Meaning and definitions of fur trader, translation in Kannada language for fur trader with similar and opposite words.

What Is Fur Trader?

Historically the trade had a large impact on the exploration and colonization of Siberia, northern North America and the South Shetland and South Sandwich Islands. Today the importance of the fur trade has diminished and is currently centered around fur farms and regulated furbearer trapping, but remains controversial. Several animal rights organizations oppose the fur trade, while supporters often cite their methods as not being cruel, that the animal populations are abundant, and their rights to practice a traditional lifestyle should be respected. The use of fur has been partly substituted by synthetic imitations. The Métis label defined these children as a marginal people with a fluid identity.

The Great Fur Trade Companies

The furs were mostly traded in China for tea, silks, porcelain, and other Chinese goods, which were then sold in Europe and the United States. As the sea otter population was depleted, the maritime fur trade diversified and was transformed, tapping new markets and commodities while continuing to focus on the Northwest Coast and China. By 1620 Russia dominated the land from the Urals eastward to the Yenisey valley and to the Altai Mountains in the south, comprising about 1.25 million square miles of land. Furs would become Russia’s largest source of wealth during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Keeping up with the advances of Western Europe required significant capital and Russia did not have sources of gold and silver, but it did have furs, which became known as “soft gold” and provided Russia with hard currency. The Russian government received income from the fur trade through two taxes, the yasak tax on natives and the 10% “Sovereign Tithing Tax” imposed on both the catch and sale of fur pelts. Fur was in great demand in Western Europe, especially sable and marten, since European forest resources had been over-hunted and furs had become extremely scarce.

Images & Illustrations Of Fur Trade

Additionally, the problem of the commons is also glaringly visible in this matter. Open access to resources leads to no incentive to conserve stocks, and actors which try to conserve lose out compared to the others when it comes to maximizing economic output. Therefore, there appeared to be a lack of concern by tribes of the First Nations about the sustainability of the fur trade. The problem of over-exploitation is not helped by the fact that the efforts by the French to remove the middlemen such as the Huron who increasingly resented their influence meant that stocks were put under more pressure. All these factors contributed to an unsustainable trade pattern in furs which depleted beaver stocks very fast. The Five Nations launched the “Beaver Wars” to take control of the fur trade by allowing themselves to be only middlemen who would deal with the Europeans.

He was the first white man to see its northern part and to meet the prairie tribes—the Sioux, Illinois, and Missouri Indians, who conversed in sign language. Not only did Radisson make this enormously difficult journey to the Mississippi, but he also went overland, through woods and over prairies, from Lake Superior to Hudson Bay. On James Bay, at the southern end of Hudson Bay, he found “old forts all battered with bullets,” which may have been the forts set up there by Henry Hudson during the bitter winter that caused his crew to mutiny. On his return to Three Rivers, he found his widowed sister had married Médart Chouart, sieur de Groseilliers, a man as clever in woodcraft as Radisson himself. In April 1659 some Algonquin were about to return home from Ottawa with 30 Frenchmen and two Jesuits who wished to explore the unknown land of the forests.

The demand for beaver increased rapidly in the early 1600’s, when fashionable European men began to wear felt hats made from beaver fur. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.All the traders played a game of enticing the Indian trappers from each other. The Hudson’s Bay Company might have outfitted an Indian on credit during several lean years and taught him to trap properly.

Value Of Goods Received At York Factory In 1740 (made Beaver)

By contrast, the fur trade seems to have weakened the status of Indian women in the Canadian sub-arctic in what is now the North West Territories, the Yukon, and the northern parts of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. The harsh terrain imposed a nomadic or semi-nomadic lifestyle on the people living there as to stay in one place for long would quickly exhaust the food supply. The absence of navigable rivers made riparian transport impossible, so everything had to be carried on the backs of the women. White argued that the traditional “imperial adventure” historiography where the fur trade was the work of a few courageous white men who ventured into the wildness was flawed as it ignored the contributions of the Indians. The American anthropologist Ruth Landes in her 1937 book Ojibwe Women described Ojibwe society in the 1930s as based on “male supremacy”, and she assumed this was how Ojibwe society had always been, a conclusion that has been widely followed. Landes did note that the women she interviewed told her stories about Ojibwe women who in centuries past inspired by their dream visions had played prominent roles as warriors, hunters, healers, traders and leaders. From the Ojibwe viewpoint, if one of their women gave herself to a fur trader, it created the reciprocal obligation for the fur trader to give back.

“This trading system,” Ray explained, “is impossible to label neatly as ‘gift trade’, or ‘administered trade’, or ‘market trade’, since it embodies elements of all these forms.” Indians engaged in trade for a variety of reasons. Reducing them to simple economic or cultural dichotomies, as the formalists and substantivists had done, was a fruitless simplification that obscured more than it revealed. Moreover, Ray used trade accounts and account books in the Hudson’s Bay Company’s archives for masterful qualitative analyses and pushed the boundaries of the field’s methodology. Following Ray’s position, Bruce M. White also helped to create a more nuanced picture of the complex ways in which native populations fit new economic relationships into existing cultural patterns. Because of the wealth at stake, different European-American governments competed with various native societies for control of the fur trade.

Fur trading allowed Russia to purchase from Europe goods that it lacked, like lead, tin, precious metals, textiles, firearms, and sulphur. Russia also traded furs with Ottoman Turkey and other countries in the Middle East in exchange for silk, textiles, spices, and dried fruit. The high prices that sable, black fox, and marten furs could generate in international markets spurred a “fur fever” in which many Russians moved to Siberia as independent trappers. From 1585 to 1680, tens of thousands of sable and other valuable pelts were obtained in Siberia each year. The fur trade west of the Mississippi River began in the mid-1700s.

The beaver returns at Fort Albany and York Factory for the period 1700 to 1770 are described in Figure 2. At Fort Albany the number of beaver skins over the period 1700 to 1720 averaged roughly 19,000, with wide year-to-year fluctuations; the range was about 15,000 to 30,000. After 1720 and until the late 1740s average returns declined by about 5,000 skins, and remained within the somewhat narrower range of roughly 10,000 to 20,000 skins. The period of relative stability was broken in the final years of the 1740s. In 1748 and 1749, returns increased to an average of nearly 23,000. Following these unusually strong years, the trade fell precipitously so that in 1756 fewer than 6,000 beaver pelts were received. There was a brief recovery in the early 1760s but by the end decade trade had fallen below even the mid-1750s levels.

The trapper also had to pay the value of one fourth his furs as crown tax to the king. Their search for furs led trappers to explore large areas of the continent. Because of their knowledge of the land they were able to serve as guides for later settlers. Song lyrics by fur trade — Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by fur trade on the website. I can’t even talk to the tail at work because this fur trader keeps cock blocking me. In 2008, the global recession hit the fur industry and trappers especially hard with greatly depressed fur prices thanks to a drop in the sale of expensive fur coats and hats. Such a drop in fur prices reflects trends of previous economic downturns.

Mary Davis
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