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CONTACTS MENU INTRODUCTION ICELANDIC SAGAS AND INUIT LEGENDS BASQUE FISHERMEN A MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE FUR TRADE
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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 TOKEN
HUDSON BAY COMPANY TOKEN

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.

 

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