The fur trade is woven into the fabric of Canadian history. It was the country’s second major industry, after fishing. The great explorers Radisson and des Groseilliers set out from New France to discover new sources of fur north and west of the Great Lakes and charted a northern trade route through Hudson Bay. Their travels led to the founding of Hudson’s Bay Company, and through it, to the development of the Canada we know today.
The trade for fur was the reason HBC was established. From the outset, this trade was based on the need to satisfy two very different sets of customers: the First Nations, who traded prime pelts in exchange for a number of trade goods, and the European merchants who bought the pelts at auction in order to manufacture them into hats. This exhibit focuses on the second half of the business. Although HBC is no longer involved in the fur trade, the business of fur is still a major contributor to the Canadian economy today.