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Fur Trade

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The fur trade is a key element of the economic development of Canada. A history of the fur trade is available in The Canadian Encyclopedia online [].

Research at Library and Archives Canada

Library and Archives Canada holds many records regarding the fur trade, including the companies involved in fur trading and the men, called "voyageurs," who did the actual fur trading.

Charles Napier Bell Fonds: Fur Trade Papers (MG 19 A30)

Includes records relating to the recruitment of "voyageurs," 1787 to 1820, arranged by date.

Collection de contrats d'engagement de Canadiens-français, 1801-1820 (MG 19 A51)

Contracts for some French-Canadians working for various fur trade companies(23 pp.).

Ermatinger Estate Fonds (MG 19 A2)

Contracts for "voyageurs" in western Canada, 1773-1780 (vol. 2, 170 pp., not indexed).

Quebec, Lower Canada and Canada East: Applications for Licences (RG 4 B28)

Includes bonds and licences for the fur trade, 1763-1790 (vols. 110-115, microfilm reels H-1096 to H-1098, not indexed).

Hudson's Bay Company (HBC)

Library and Archives Canada holds copies of the records found in the Hudson's Bay Company Archives. The records must be viewed onsite. The different series are described in the ARCHIVED - General Inventory database.

Title: "Hudson$ Bay Company" (use "$" wildcard character)

Research in Other Institutions

Hudson's Bay Company Archives [] (includes North West Company)
The Hudson's Bay Company Archives has alphabetical indexes to many of their records relating to employees.

Research in Provincial Sources

In Quebec, private agreements were made between companies or merchants and men to do fur trading and were ratified in a Notarial Record. Those records are entitled "Engagement."

Example of an Abstract

28 05 1694 (1692-1716) [Chambalon, L.] (Qc)

Engagement en qualité de voyageur de Simon Barbot dit Laforest, voyageur, de la ville de Quebec, à Marie Nolan et Louis de Laporte de Louvigny, écuyer, capitaine d'une compagnie des troupes du détachement de la Marine et commandant du fort de Buade à Michillimakinac.

The Parchemin database can be used to search Notarial Records from 1635 to 1779.

Research Online

The Dictionary of Canadian Biography [] includes references to many of the individuals involved with the fur trade.

Research in Published Sources

You can search for books on the fur trade in AMICUS, using authors, titles or subject terms such as:

  • fur trade; and
  • explorers.

Consult our Bibliography for further information on this topic.

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