1869 Ruperts Land was not considered Canada. It was privately owned by Hudsons Bay Company until 1870. Transfer was muddled

The Fur Empire


The Quebec Act
The War of 1812
The Fur Empire
Timber and Wheat
Population Increase
Little Englandism




From 1763 to the 1821 was the Heroic Age of the fur trade and the period when two great trading systems competed in the West and Northwest: the Hudson's Bay Company versus the Northwest Company; Scots versus French Canadian Montrealers.







It was a time of Western and Northern explorations by agents of the two great fur companies. Samuel Hearne of the HBC explored  the Artic Ocean in 1772; Alexander Maczenkie of the NWC crossed the continent to the Pacific Ocean  in 1793; David Thompson of the NWC explored and mapped over 90,000 km in northwestern America


The impact on the Natives was devastating, as explorations allowed European diseases to spread in the interior, causing a 30% decrease of the Native Canadian population in the 18th century. Traditional ways of live were changed forever and dependence on trade with Europeans increased. Explorations and trade allowed the growth of the Metis population in the prairies.






There was a fierce competition among the Russians, Spanish, British and Americans to control trade on the Pacific coast, especially the lucrative trade in sea otter fur with China. Although weakened by European diseases, Pacific Nations were able to use the fur trade to enrich their traditional ways of life.





The Heroic Age of the fur trade gradually came to an end after 1820. In 1816, the United States forbade British traders access to its territories. Hence the Upper Missouri and the Mandan villages, an immensely profitable trade territory for the NWC, was lost. This precipitated the merging of the NWC and the HBC in 1821, under the name of Hudson's Bay Company. Moreover, after the 1820s, the demand for beaver fur in Europe dropped, due to the new fashion of the silk hat, which gradually replaced hats made from beaver felt. But the HBC continued to rule the huge northwestern interior of Canada until Confederation and later. For example, Sir George Simpson, the Hudson's Bay Company Governor-in-Chief from 1821 to 1860, was called "the Little Emperor". He had his own narrow beam, eight-metre "Express Canoe" that carried him across Canada many times. With flag flying, an elite crew of Iroquois voyageurs, and a personal Scottish piper, Simpson's arrival at any outpost was a very special event. His wife, Lady Frances Simpson (who married him at age 19 in 1830) and her companion, Catherine Turner, were the first British women ever to travel by canoe from Lachine (Quebec) to York Factory (Manitoba) on Hudson's Bay.


From Portraits of the Great Fur Trade Canoes (Canadian Museum of Civilization)