Fur Trade and Exploration
Opening the Far Northwest, 1821-1852
AUTHOR: Karamanski, Theodore J.
PUBLISHER: University of Oklahoma Press
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In nineteenth-century North America the beaver was "brown gold." It and other furbearing animals were the targets of an extractive industry like gold mining. Hoping to make their fortunes with the Hudson’s Bay Company, young Scots and Englishmen left their homes in the British Isles for the Canadian frontier. In the Far Northwest-northern British Columbia, the Yukon, the western Northwest Territories, and eastern Alaska-they collaborated with Indians and French Canadians to send back as many pelts as possible in return for an allotment of trade goods.
The extraordinary achievements of the trader-adverturers-such men as Samuel Black, John Bell, and Robert Campbell-have been overlooked by previous historians because their way was so difficult and their successes were so meager. Isolated at the end of 3,000 miles of canoe trails, in fierce competition with Russian and Indian traders, they always worked against the odds while at every turn the Bay Company withheld its support in order to conserve profits.
PUBLICATION DATE: 3/15/1988