Fur Trade in the New World
The arrival of Europeans in the St. Lawrence Valley in the 16th
century had repercussions that were felt throughout the entire geo-political
landscape of southern Quebec. As the demand for furs grew ever stronger
in Europe, business concerns saw promise in the New World. Basques
and Bretons had already established relations with the Montagnais,
and fur trading in the Tadoussac area had started in 1580. The traders
brought back beaver skins, which were prized by European hatters,
as well as moose and caribou hides and martin, otter, fox and racoon
pelts, which were sought by furriers.
HUDSON BAY COMPANY
During the 17th century, the fur trade spread rapidly throughout
the St. Lawrence Valley. Traders and merchants travelled everywhere
they could, and the trading post at Tadoussac was soon followed by
new posts built at Quebec City, Trois-Rivières and Montreal.
Furs came from the hinterland (called the pays d’en haut by
the French) and even from Hudson Bay, via the Ottawa River. The fur
trade monopoly that brought wealth to a number of European merchants
thus had its roots in a vast trade network that developed out of
the prehistoric period.
Center, Université de Montréal 2006. All rights reserved. Questions/comments?