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Lecture 4

202 - Week 4 - Lecture 1 - Fur Trade and Slave Trade .docx
202 - Week 4 - Lecture 1 - Fur Trade and Slave Trade .docx

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McGill University
HIST 202
Elsbeth Anne Heaman

Week 4, Lecture 1 202 – Canada to 1867 Fur Trade and Slave Trade Final exam question: ‘Write a political history of violence in Canada before Confederation (understanding Canada to mean the regions now constituting Canada). In what ways was violence a political problem or, alternatively, a solution to political problems? Did Canada become more or less violent over time? Why or why not? Compare two dates, one before and one after 1760, to illustrate the change.’2000 words. - violence is a theme which runs through many of the readings – some of the most important readings on Canada - looking that we can use this to organise an argument about some of the main components of Canadian history pre- Confederation o Bonds ofAlliance and also the other text also - Sexual violence, James (?) campaign - Have to piece an argument together from differing pieces of information from all the course - E.g. p. 128 of Rushforth – could not legislate slave submission, planters relied on violence to coerce them - ‘political history of violence’= violence on the frontier, violence in society e.g. Champlain assassination attempts, French violence towards the native population o how can politicians repress it, or amplify it in useful ways = not just a story of taming humanities - did Canada become more or less violent? – try and work two case studies into the story - come and talk to the staff if struggling what kind of violence? = physical, psychological, torture – quite prevalent – judicial torture is abolished in the course of the period Fur trade and the slave trade - both the fur and slave trades are absolutely central to relationships in the contact zone o fur trade is VERY focused on in Canadian history, whereas the slave trade is not really hardwired into Canadian history  could it be to do with the negative reputation of the slave trade and the violence involved? Harold Innis, the Fur Trade in Canada, - fur trade as synecdoche of Canadian nation and history - Fish on the coast, fur brings Europeans inland and westward, timber trade continues to attract people and then agriculture which spread people across the plains - Different staples explains Canada’s economic and political history – fur trade was a natural entity that ensures that Canada made sense as a Canadian political entity (contrary to other historiography which said that Canada was an artificial territory created by the colonial powers at the 49 Parallel (?!)) - Innis – almost uses it to construct a national identity resting on the fur trade Fur trade = westward expansion BUT the same could be said about the slave trade - there was some fur trade in Canada also but it was less important to the economic development of the USA Canada = product of indigenous diplomacy as much as economics though… Innis  insists on a gap between the imperial metropolis and frontier culture - fur trade makes a centralised military power at the centre of the metropolis o fur trade does not make that money for the fur traders = need centralised companies to give monopoly charters and the fur trade lends itself to the imperial culture of imposing a metropolis upon the space whilst also supplying military protection - English are better at competing in the fur trade and produce cheap goods that are better quality and more popular than the French = win much of the trade from French o Individual traders will bypass the French and go further South in order to trade with the English - French thus respond with more statism, soldiers, exactions = unsuccessful = ‘French power in New France collapsed of its own weight’ o England = free trade, better industrial powers etc. with better monopolies also VERSUS model of frontier image ofAmerica – Frederick Turner in the 1890s  where everything depends on local negotiations and individual initiative - Canadian frontier too belongs to people like Champlain or Kirkes or Radisson ▯ people who make their own opportunities and become ‘Caesars of the wilderness’ o French stifle entrepreneurship though – traders get furs and their money but go to the French whom stifle it o Kirke – from Dieppe – find greater opportunities serving the British, seize Quebec and are rewarded with governorship of Newfoundland from the British  Newfoundland = constitutes himself and runs his own colony due to the lack of centralism  transatlantic fish and wine trade o Innis = more interested in the way that empires shape linear spaces – impose technologies e.g. railways and telecommunications – how is this mapped? How wasAmerican culture mapped onto Canadian space… Innis = where there is a frontier, there is a backtier or a metropolis that makes the place into something useful Innis = very Canada central  critique = he insists on the importance of indigenous peoples in building up the fur trade - even though it may not be entirely in their own terms, the indigenous people remain a huge part of the story o theyARE consumed with insatiable desire for European goods  consequences according to this view:  Innis simply doesn’t focus on the metropolis enough  the native populations become dependent on the supplies from Europe  fratricidal war and fragmentation in eastern Canada  relinquishing sovereignty in western Canada – mess of pottage = Innisian scholars = western tribes didn’t have the same level of destructive wars as the Huronian ones in the 1640s but they still became more dependent on the European trade Versus the ‘looking east’scholarship = mourning wars rather than beaver wars; mobility not fragmentation - Brett Rushforth o These wars were not
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