At first, fur
was not the most important thing that was traded. Then, around
the year 1600, something happened: hats made from beaver felt became
very fashionable. Everybody wanted one! At the same time,
beavers were becoming extinct in Europe.
Russians were the masters of the fur trade until the European
beaver went extinct. It was also part of the reason they pushed
their empire east - to look for more furs! When they reached
the Pacific Ocean, they began to hunt in Alaska. There they
tried to stop other nations from trading furs freely. The British
and the Americans, though, had more powerful navies and forced
the Russians to back down!
When a group
from St. Malo, France, heard about the supply of beaver in North
America, they sent an expedition to the St. Lawrence River. There
they met First Nations people, who arrived by canoe.
They brought furs, which they eagerly traded for tools such as knives
and iron pots.
explorers continued to look for the Northwest Passage. In 1576
Frobisher sailed on the first of his three voyages. John
Davis continued the search, and Henry
Hudson discovered the bay that was named after him.
These men and
others began mapping the land and the waterways. This would
become important for both the fur trade and the exploration and
settlement of Canada.
A map of Frobisher's, Davis's, and Hudson's voyages to the north
was beaver fur so popular?
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