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The Importance of Fur Trade in the Formation of Canada

Question:

Discuss about the Frozen and Pacific Oceans Management.

In this article it is stated how fur trade was one of the primary commercial activities throughout the world in the 17th to mid-19th Century. The trade began as the need of fur products were increasing in Canada and the beaver fur was in high demand for its quality and durability. Thus developed a trade relationship between the North Americans and the Europeans, which even moved beyond just only trade. “the intensely competitive trade opened the continent to exploration and settlement, financed missionary work, established social, economic and colonial relationships between Europeans and Indigenous people, and played a formative role in the creation of Canada.[1]” Thus the fur trade had an important role in the formation of Canada. The women had been the essential part of the labor strength.

This work is exemplary in terms getting a firsthand experience about what it was to participate in the fur trade across the continents through the oceans. The oceans were cold and the voyage was not a very easy one. The author gives detailed account of the nature of fur trade and how it was carried out across the coast in his books. Women took several important roles in the whole system. “Native women acted as essential producers in the fur trade of the Canadian and American Plains.”[2] The production had been mainly dependent on the women labor. The women also played important role in the ships which carried out the whole business.

“This article focuses on four Native women who were Christian converts and married French fur traders.”[3] Therefore, there was a role of religion and politics in the fur trade scenario as well. The foreign invaders were coming and not only colonializing America but also converting the women and marrying them. The wives of the French fur traders took important role in the trading activities. The indigenous communities were changed forever by the introduction of trade and religious conversion.

“In essence the history of the early Canadian West is the history of fur trade.”[4] The author has stated fur trade was the most important factor in structuring the narrative of what are the four western provinces of Canada today. There was less violence in the western Canada in the struggle of the colonials and the natives, this is because the both communities had to depend on each other for managing the fur trade. The women who were native Indians, were married to the French colonialists. This created a relationship that was beyond just trading activities. The women hence were a factor who bridged the gap between the colonial foreigners and the native Indians. Possibly the greatest significant native job achieved by the females at the fur trade stakes was to deliver the men with a stable resource of Indian shoes or moccasins.

The author has contemplated upon the role of the Indian, White, and mixed blood women played in the development of the fur trade and thus gained valuable insights upon the human dimension and its changes affected by the fur trade. The fur trade was carried out both in the land routes and the sea routes, however the sea route of the trade was more established. The women had been in many areas decision makers about the fur trade activities. The authors have explained that the primary way in which information about the role of women in fur trade can be derived are from trader’s journals, letters and wills.

The Essential Role of Women in the Fur Trade Industry

of fur-merchandise exchanges between European men and native men, with women playing a largely subsidiary role.”[5] The title of the article has a humorous way of describing how the women of the North American continent had been engrossed in the fur trade activity that they were married to the beavers. The article describes the pattern of life of the indigenous Indian women had before the coming of the Europeans and the contemporary life when the Europeans started pouring into America, started religious conversions and engaging the native people into the trading activities. The women were used as cheap labor pool, and they were utilized to work manually in extracting the fur, and processing those.

“This is one of many letters that Charlevoix wrote to a correspondent at Paris to try to convey what the New World was like. He was refined and well-educated, and his letters are marked by charm, grace and humor. He went on to write a multi-volume history of New France based on interviews with traders and priests and on unpublished records, which remains one of our best historical sources on early Wisconsin.”

This particular letter gives us clear insights about the activities going on in the North American scenario and describes the native people’s role in the fur trade, and description of the fur trade. The women were used as laborers and the steps of fur processing included peeling, tanning, cleaning and sorting all of which were labor intensive jobs that required lots of patience. The letter has a lots of details about the fur industry and about various processes it included. The letter talks in details about the North American Indians and Aboriginals, these people were mostly used for the purpose of the trading activities. The women of Aboriginal origin were the connection between the old systems with the new systems that were to be introduced. The women also provided the necessary knowledge about the land, and the directed the traders to the necessary resources. Children of native tribes were sent to Eastern areas of Canada and in Europe for education. They not only engaged in fur trade but also became the middlemen who assisted the missionaries and the preachers to preach the teachings of the Catholicism of Roman Catholic Church in the land.

Not only the aboriginal women but also the European women who had been accompanying their husbands also had taken part in various trade activities. “A few French wives may have ventured west with their trapper husbands, and some Hudson's Bay Company officials brought their wives from Europe.” [7]

The above study of various literatures, articles, books, journals, and other sources have given a clear knowledge about where were the various scenarios of trade in North America and Europe that had allowed intercontinental and overseas trade activities, and it has also given a clear indication about the role of women in the fur trade activities. The women played a very important role in not only providing manual, labor but also providing necessary managerial skills, the managerial activities were mainly performed by the wives of the European traders who accompanied them when they visited the North American land.

In the land trade, the Indian women had been assisting the traders with their knowledge about locations, and then providing manual labors to help the traders in processing their products. The European women who had accompanied their husbands had helped in various decision making processes and other managerial works required to perform the fur trade activities across the continents nicely.

In the land trade, the Indian women had been assisting the traders with their knowledge about locations, and then providing manual labors to help the traders in processing their products. The European women who had accompanied their husbands had helped in various decision making processes and other managerial works required to perform the fur trade activities across the continents nicely.

The fur trade in itself was a very important factor in the development of Canada as a country. It had shaped the history of the Canadian nation, as people from the European countries who were mainly traders were settling down in the Canadian area. The trade activity was carried out often from Montreal and through the Pacific.

Reference:

Canadahistoryproject.ca. "Canada A Country By Consent: New France: Fur Trade 1500S-1700S". Canadahistoryproject.Ca. https://www.canadahistoryproject.ca/1663/1663-05-fur-trade.html, (2018).

Mackenzie, Alexander. Voyages from Montreal, on the River St. Laurence, Through the Continent of North America, to the Frozen and Pacific Oceans; in the Years 1789 and 1793: With a Preliminary Account of the Rise, Progress, and Present State of the Fur Trade of that Country.: Illustrated with Maps. T. Cadell, Jun. and W. Davies... Cobbett and Morgan... and W. Creech, at Edinburgh, (1801).

Sleeper-Smith, Susan. "Women, kin, and Catholicism: new perspectives on the fur trade." Ethnohistory 47, no. 2 (2000): 423-452.

Van Kirk, Sylvia. "The role of native women in the fur trade society of western Canada, 1670-1830." Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies (1984): 9-13.

Van Kirk, Sylvia. Many tender ties: women in fur-trade society, 1670-1870. University of Oklahoma Press, (1983).

White, Bruce M. "The woman who married a beaver: trade patterns and gender roles in the Ojibwa fur trade." Ethnohistory (1999): 109-147.

Wisconsinhistory.org. "Letter Charlevoix, Pierre François Xavier De [On His 1721 Visit To Wisconsin] | Turning Points In Wisconsin History | Wisconsin Historical Society". Wisconsinhistory.Org. https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints/search.asp?id=17. (2018)

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