Fur industry in the rearview mirror

The year 1806 marks the date when the fur industry became a major influence here within the New Caledonia region.

By George LaBrash

 

The year 1806 marks the date when the fur industry became a major influence here within the New Caledonia region of Northwestern North America.

With the introduction of trade goods to the area and subsequent opportunity to export commodities in the form of new furs to the outside world, the stage was set for a dramatic change to the time-honoured nomadic lifestyle of the local inhabitants.

Prior to the establishment of the trading posts at Fort St. James and Fort Fraser by the North West Company in 1806, life had existed here on a hunter-gatherer basis for perhaps 10,000 years.

Evidence suggests that these early inhabitants were highly nomadic and visited five to seven different “homes” in the course of the annual round. Each home stop had something special to offer, whether it be a choice fish-harvesting opportunities or an ideal wintering sites, each location was unique and critical for supporting a special lifestyle.

At the time of initial European contact, the First Nations in this region used fur extensively as a garment material.

Abundant and well prepared furs were essential for survival where a continental climate ensures extreme temperatures changes on a regular basis. Furs and prepared leathers were also often traded with the coastal First Nations in exchange for marine shells and oolican grease.

When the trading ports were set up in this area two centuries ago, the North West Company was interested in gaining access to the abundant fur resource throughout this region.

Trade items were transported from Montreal by canoe and pack train and the bundled furs were carried back to Montreal by some route for several decades.

In later years, other access routes were developed, however transporting goods and materials in and out of this remote area was never easy.

For the first century or so the trading posts seem to offer a mutually beneficial arrangement between labour needed to harvest the fur resources was supplied by the local First Nations population.

Most of the work needed to keep the trading posts supplied with food, fuel and water was also supplied by First Nation individuals.

The trade items available at the post consisted mainly of tools, firearms, garment materials, general food staples and ornamentals.

In the course of time, this arrangement resulted in the establishment of permanent First Nation settlements within close proximity to the trading posts. The nomadic lifestyle of the hunter-gatherer of by-gone centuries had essentially ended during this century.

The Fort Fraser and District Trappers will be hosting the 67th annual convention of the B.C. Trappers Association in Vanderhoof on April 13-15. To book a table in the commercial area in order to sell or display items contact Terri-Anne Houghton by e-mail: Tmalczewski@shaw.ca

Just Posted

Convicted animal abuser to return to B.C. court May 21

Catherine Jessica Adams is facing a breach of probation charge

Gallery: Project Heavy Duty inspires students into it’s 32nd year

The event is a collaboration between SD91 and industry in and around Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake and Fort St. James

Telkwa pot plant application passes review

Cannabis company claims new Health Canada regulations are working in its favour

Madison Scott’s mother hosts event to keep search for her missing daughter alive

Eight years ago, the Vanderhoof teenager disappeared, and the RCMP continue to chase leads

Cullen demands action on Ecstall River

Failing to penalize parties involved undermines all salmon conservation efforts, MP says

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of Victoria Day

How much do you know about the monarch whose day we celebrate each May?

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

Father and two youngsters fall down a steep, treacherous cliff while hiking Burke Mountain

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

Most Read