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Lecture 4

Lecture 4 Part 2 – Fur Trade

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Western University
History 2201E
Linda Sabathy- Judd

Lecture 4 Part 2 – Fur Trade  European trades fighting for the best furs as well as allegiance from Native trading partners o What comes out of the Hudson Bay and Albany goes to England, St. Lawrence goods go to France o Availability of shipping was an issue  To get the furs out was difficult, limited amount of time to get them out because river ways freeze  If at war at home, most likely going to be at war on the seas, will fight each other/take goods from each other o Tried to create monopoly companies  E.g. East India Company and Hudson Bay Company of the British o Lots of illegal trade going on as well o Factors – local traders o Illegal traders deep in the interior called the coureurs du bois (runners of the woods)  Medard Groseillers and Pierre Radisson  Eventually give their talents to the English because they weren’t being helped by the French o Good traders had to be clever, honest  Weren’t supposed to give alcohol to natives  Some were not, caused breakdown of the trade  Alcohol a double-edged sword, Europeans had it and natives wanted it; had no tolerance for it  Jesuits almost stopped it, but it doesn’t last o Cannot understate the importance of the Natives, trade would not have gone as well as it did  Over 90% of the traders were Natives  Were good hunters, knew where the animals were and how to get them, could be done individually, but often done in groups  Skinned, tanned, shipped furs to posts, etc  From 1608 to 1614, 25,000 furs were shipped to France  Started to hunt beavers full time, stopped hunting for their own subsistence, left behind their old traditions  Beaver furs became currency  Natives cheated in the trade, but they were not hapless victims  Had the upper hand if they stayed away from alcohol and were shrewd businessmen but didn’t understand the law of supply-and-demand o Natives introduced to credit system o Trading captains were always Natives  Often the chief  Had good bargaining powers to get the best deals as well as a good orator  Gift giving was still important, very expensive for European monarchs o Native women very important  Cleaned and dressed the hides  Very hard work  Driving factor behind the trade, pushed to get European goods that were useful for them (e.g. steel/iron knives, etc.)  Often married European traders  Picked up European languages, helped with communication  Very important for peace making, etc. o Native Middlemen in the trade  Good job if they could get it  Step between Europeans and other Native tribes  In the end, it was the Huron who became the principle trading partners of the French because they were in the ideal position for it  Changes native politics, relations with Europeans the most important o Problems for Natives  Survival skills vanished  Alliances o Alliances for trade often led to military alliances  Dependent on who was there  French-Native alliance start in the east, primarily Algonquian speakers and the Huron  Fr
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