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Fur Brigades — Brigades de Fourrures

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La Loutre du Canada, Les Castors du Canada (Otter of Canada, Beavers of Canada). LAC, Acc. No. R9266-2555, Peter Winkworth Collection of Canadiana, Jacques Christophe Werner 1798-1856

"Canada was built on dead beavers."
         Margaret Atwood, interview, 1988

"What history encourages us to do is to remember the hindrances that Native people posed to the forward momentum of European migration, even though Native people were more often an assistance, showing Europeans river systems and trade routes, taking them around the neighbourhood and introducing them to family and friends. . . Popular history for the period tends to ignore this and focuses instead on the trouble Indians caused."
                                                                    Thomas King, The Inconvenient Indian

"The newcomers were welcomed. They were taught how to survive by the Aboriginals. How to dress. How to eat to avoid scurvy . . .The most important Canadian business – fur trading – was reliant on  close and steady relationship with the First Nations."
                                                                                           John Ralston Saul

1663 ? Les pelletiers à Montréal. The Fur Traders at Montreal. LAC, Acc. No. 1990-329-1, George Agnew Reid 1916

1663? Les pelletiers à Montréal. The Fur Traders at Montreal. LAC, Acc. No. 1990-328-1, George Agnew Reid 1916

A Clue to the Western Sea, E. J. Dinsmore, A Picture History of Canada, 1942

"The canoe . . . was to be used as our principal means of transportation – personal, governmental, military and commercial – for several centuries. Why? Because the First Nations had developed the appropriate means of transport for our road system, that is, our rivers and lakes."
                                                               John Ralston Saul, A Fair Country, p. 38

"Canada was committed totally to the fur trade, and the fur trade drove the fur-bearing animals before it, dragged Canada forever deeper into the West, sapped its strength . . . and infallibly assured the victory of the English."
                                                                                                Bruce Hutchison

Canadian Voyageurs Walking a Canoe Up a Rapid. Voyageurs canadiens poussant un canot dans un rapide. LAC Acc. No. 1934-380-1, William Henry Bartlett, 1870-73

Burial Place of the Voyageurs. William Henry Bartlett, LAC C-040707, 1841

1670 Le prince Rupert lisant la charte octroyée le 2 mai 1670 aux dirigeants de la Compagnie des aventuriers faisant du commerce dans la baie d'Hudson. Prince Rupert reading charter granted May 2nd, 1670, to the directors of the Company of adventurers trading into Hudson's Bay.

1691 Henry Kelsey sees the buffalo on the western plains, A Picture History of Canada. Charles  William Jefferys 1920s or 1930s?

"'Women,' added he [Matonabbee, Hearne's Chipewyun guide], 'were made for labour; one of them can carry, or haul, as much as two men can do. They also pitch our tents, make and mend our clothing, keep us warm at night; and, in fact, there is no such thing as travelling any considerable distance, or for any length of time, in this country, without their assistance. Women', said he again, 'though they do every thing, are maintained at trifling expense; for as they always stand cook, the very licking of their fingers in scarce times, is sufficient for their subsistence.'"
                                                                                   Samuel Hearne, Oct. 1770

The Spring Fur Brigade Leaves Lachine for the West, HBC Heritage, Frank Arkbuckle

1777 Inset of a Fur Trading Scene on "A Map of the Inhabited Part of Canada from the French Surveys...". LAC, Acc. No. C-007300, 1777

1800? Shooting the Rapids. Descente des rapides. LAC, Frances Anne Hopkins, Acc. No. 1989-401-2, c002774

"The canoe is to Canada what the horse is to the United States – the prime vehicle by which the land was first explored and first grasped imaginatively. American myths involve heroic rides, but the great Canadian journey is a canoe trip."
                                                                     Wayland Drew,  Saturday Night, 1978

1869 Canoe Manned by Voyageurs Passing a Waterfall. Voyageurs franchissant une cascade en canot. LAC, 1989-401-1, 1869

Voyageurs at Dawn / Voyageurs à l'aube. LAC, Acc. No. 1989-401-3, 1871

Indian trading furs, 1785. Traîteur de pelleterier indien, 1785. LAC, 1972-026-71, Charles W. Jefferys, 1920s or 1930s?

Voyageurs and Raftsmen on the Ottawa about 1818. Charles W. Jefferys, LAC C-005946, 1930-1931

Trout Fall and Portage on the Trout River, N.W.T. Chutes Trout et portage sur la rivière Trout, Territoires du Nord-Ouest. LAC, Acc. No. 1970-188-1272 Collection d'oeuvres canadiennes de W.H. Coverdale, Robert Hood 1819

Indian Completing a portage. Indiens au terme d'un portage. LAC, Acc. No. 1970-188-2244 Purchased with a grant from the Secretary of State, William Armstrong 1873

A boat brigade setting out from Fort Edmonton in 1825 on its annual trip down the Saskatchewan River to York Factory, J.D. Kelly, 1949

Canoes in the Mist. LAC, Acc. No. R9266-2738 Peter Winkworth Collection of Canadiana, Frances Ann Hopkins 1873

"It is no mere accident that the present dominion coincides roughly with the fur-trading areas of northern North America."
Harold A. Innis, The Fur Trade in Canada

"No country under heaven is so completely adapted for internal navigation."
Statistical Sketches of Upper Canada, 1832

Fort William. LAC, Acc. No. 1989-491-1, 1866

Fort William, Lake Superior, Canada West. Fort William, sur les bords du lac Supérieur, Canada-Ouest. LAC, Acc. No. 1968-115-1, Willam Henry Edward Napier 1857

Camp Providers. Fournisseurs du camp. Acc. No. 1946-125-1 Don de Mme. J.B. Jardine, 1867

Buffalo Hunting in the Summer. Chasse au bison durant l'été. LAC, Acc. No. 1981-55-69, 1822

Caravan en Route. LAC, Acc. No. 1946-124-1,  Alfred Jacob Miller 1867

Camp Scene with Drying Buffalo Meat. Scène de campement avec séchage de viande de bison. LAC, Acc. No. 1963-97-1.49R, July 1862

Breakfast at Sunrise. Déjeuner au lever du soleil. LAC, 1946-131-1 Don de Mme. J.B. Jardine, 1867

A Young Indian Mother Fording a Stream. Jeune mère indienne traversant un ruisseau. LAC, Acc. No. 1946-126-1 Gift of Mrs. J.B. Jardine, Alfred Jacob Miller 1867

Alexander MacKenzie Crossing the Rockies in 1793, Arthur Hemming

Masked dancer of Bella Coola Indian. LAC PA-, 1931

Overland to the Pacific, Charles W Jefferys, 1920s

John Innes, Simon Fraser’s Canoes Descending the Fraser River & G.H. Southwell []

Charles W Jefferys Simon Fraser’s Canoes Descending the Fraser River, 1920 or 30s

"The Northwest Company was the forerunner of Confederation and it was built on the work of the French voyageur, the contribution of the Indians, especially the canoe, Indian corn, and pemmican, and the organizing ability of Anglo-American merchants."
                                                                                            Harold Adams Innis

"Every inch of penetration westward by first francophones and then the Anglophones was dependent on Native support for guidance, food, tactics and negotiation."
                                                John Ralston Saul, Reflections of a Siamese Twin

The Fight at Seven Oaks in the Red River Settlement. The incident led to the 1821 merger of the two fur-trading rivals – the North West Company (NW Co.) and the Hudson's Bay Company. The Métis fought for the NW Co. La bataille de Seven Oaks dans la colonie de la rivière Rouge. L'incident a conduit à la fusion, en 1821 des deux rivaux de traite des fourrures - la Compagnie du Nord-Ouest (CNO) et la Compagnie de la Baie d'Hudson. Les Métis qui ont combattu pour le CNO, ont appelé "la Victoire de Frog Plain» (la Victoire de la Grenouillère). LAC, Acc. No. 1972-26-779, Charles William Jefferys 1920s or 1930?

Interior of a Southern Indian tent  LAC, R13133-441, Robert Hood March 1820

Hudson's Bay Company officials in an express canoe crossing a lake. Employés de la Compagnie de la Baie d'Hudson traversant un lac en canot. Voyageurs were generally contracted employees who worked as canoe paddlers, bundle carriers, and general laborers for fur trading firms. They were also known as engagés, or employees. The voyageurs were French-Canadian, Métis, English, Scottish and First Nations. Les voyageurs furent engagés par contrat comme pagayeurs, porteurs et travailleurs manuels pour le compte des entreprises de traite des fourrures. Les voyageurs étaient également aussi connus sous le nom d'« engagés », ou des « employés ». Les voyageurs étaient des Canadiens-français, des Métis, des Anglais et des Premières nations. Peter Rindisbacher, LAC C-150743, ca. 1825

"Philanthropy is not the object of our visits to these Northern Indians."
                                                                         George Simpson, 1821

"The Hudson's Bay Company is simply a mercenary Corporation; there is not an officer in it with a soul above a beaver skin."
                                                                                        David Douglas, 1827

Governor George Simpson and Chief Trader Archibald descending the Fraser River, Hudson's Bay Company Archives, Adam Sherriff Scott, ca. 1942

The Council of the Northwest Department of Ruperts' Land meeting at Norway House, June 21st, 1836, LAC, R13133-110, 1936. The men depicted are, left to right: John Charles, Chief Factor; Peter Warren Dease, Chief Factor; Allan McDonell, Chief Factor; Sir George Simpson, Governor; Donald Ross, Chief Factor; John Rowand, Chief Factor; Richard Grant, Chief Trader; William Todd, Chief Trader. In the left foreground and in the background are the two clerks.

Indians Bartering. Troc avec des Indiens. LAC R13133-301, John Richard Coke Smyth, 1840

Fort Garry, Winnipeg. LAC, Acc. No. 1969-4-35, Henry James Warre ca. 1848

A View of the Post Dog Trains Leaving Fort Garry for St. Paul. Voitures de la poste, tirées par des chiens, quittant le fort Garry pour aller à St. Paul. LAC, 1989-492-3, 1901

York boats on the Saskatchewan River. PA-017395, 1912

The York Boats, The Drama of the Forests, Arthur Heming, 1921

Horse Teams and Wagons Crossing the Assiniboine at Fort Ellice. LAC, Acc. No. 1984-45-114, !3 August 1881

On Canada's Frontier, Julian Ralph, 1892 (illustrations were prepared for Harper's Magazine)

Hauling a boat up a rapid., likely the Columbia River. Halage d'un canot dans un rapide. LAC, Henry James Warre ca. 1846

The Rocky Mts. from the Columbia River. LAC, Acc. No. R9266-1198 Peter Winkworth Collection of Canadiana, Henry James Warre 1848

Distant View of the Rocky Mountains / Vue lointaine des Rocheuses. LAC Acc. No. 1969-4-38, Henry James Warre, ca. 1848

Fort Vancouver. LAC, 1969-4-31, Henry James Warre 1848

From 1805 to 1825 furs were transported from Fort St. James to Montreal. From 1826 to 1847 they were transported by canoe or bateau from Fort St. James to Fort Alexandria, then by horse to Fort Okanagan on the Columbia River and by bateau to Fort Vancouver at the river's mouth.
In 1848 and 1849 they were transported to Fort Kamloops and then to Fort Yale and Fort Langley. From 1849 to 1860 they were transported from Fort Kamloops to Fort Hope and then to Fort Langley.

The Globe and Mail 25 October 1954

"It is a well-known circumstance that the Indian trails throughout North America invariably follow the best line of travel through a wild country."  
               Lieutenant Palmer, professional engineer

Indian group at Boston Bar, 1863-1867, LAC C- C-088948

Williams Lake Indians, 1865, Edward M. Richardson, LAC C113019

Nlaka'pamux woman and child by John Innes, The Toronto Daily Star, August 1905

HBC Fur Brigade, Native Sons of BC, SFU

At the Portage, Hudson's Bay Company's Employees on their annual expedition, Picturesque Canada, 1882

Fort Langley, Frazer's River, Harper's Weekly, 9 October 1858

Replica of a bateau used to carry freight between Fort Yale and Fort Langley,
Fort Langley National Historic Site, Tony Cox photo

"Canada is a nation that was 'an extractive company' before it was a nation."
                                                                                                 Naomi Klein

John Innes, 1929

Henry John Moberly, When Fur Was King, drawn by John Innes, 1929

Fraser River south of Yale

"I listen to the river.
The river, not the money
           not the trains.
The river is the heart 
           of countries."

            Ross Spratt, 1977

Fort Yale, 1858, LAC e002291379

Yale 1898 Charles Jones Way, BC Archives PDP 00172

Yale, Charles Jones Way, 1898

Le Miroir, Montreal, July 1932

Scow running the Grand Canyon in the Fraser River, Trailmakers of the Northwest, Paul Leland Haworth, 1921

Scows like this one were used to freight furs supplies and men across the Fraser River at Spuzzum, n.d. Image B-00329 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum, BC Archives

Swimming horses across a river, Frank Cyril Swannell, BC Archive F-07907

From Spuzzum to Keeqeloose (start of the Tikwalus Trail)

The Fraser Canyon by Frederick Whymper, 1863?, Image PDP00107 courtesy of
Royal BC Museum, BC Archives 

Indian Cemetery, Fraser River, near Big Bend. Le cimetière amérindien près de Big Bend, sur la rive du fleuve Fraser. LAC Acc. No. 1989-446-7,  Edward Roper, 1887-1909

Pack Pony with Pack, The Toronto Daily Star, 28 October 1905

Packhorses on the trail, courtesy of BC Archives, I-61673

Pack mules resting - way to Cariboo Mines. LAC C-001130A, 1867

"The Old Pack Trail up Grouse Mountain", Chinook Days, John Innes, 1926

Cataline – Most famous of all old Cariboo pack-train bosses,
The Vancouver Daily Province. 27 September 1925

On Canoe Creek Mountain, 1864, Edward M. Richardson, LAC e010857461


William Hind, Pine Forest, British Columbia, McCord Museum


Students hiking on the Tikwalus Trail (1848-49 brigade trail).

Students hiking on the Tikwalus Trail (1848-49 brigade trail).


William Hind, Scene in BC, McCord Museum

The Supply Train over the Mountain, On Canada's Frontier, Julian Ralph, 1892



Backcountry Horsemen of BC (

View of the Fraser Canyon looking north from Lake Mountain campsite

View of the Fraser Canyon looking south from Lake Mountain campsite

One of seven small lakes on top of Lake Mountain

Julian Ralph, On Canada's Frontier, 1892


Writing Letters. Rédaction d'une lettre. LAC Acc. No. 1963-97-1.30R, William G. R. Hind, July 1862

Making Bannock McCord Museum


Lake Mountain camp site

Looking South from the Tikwalus Trail 2017

Looking North from the Tikwalus Trail 2017




A. C. Anderson 1858

"At the peak of its expansion it controlled nearly three million square miles of territory – nearly a twelfth of the earth's land surface and an area ten times that of the Holy Roman Empire at its height."
Peter C. Newman, Empire of the Bay, An Illustrated History of the Hudson's Bay Company, 1984

"The territory of the H.B.Co. . . was an area of peace and order . . . On the American side of the line, violence and murder were the order of the day."
                                                                                         Frederick Merk

Link to "Tikwalus Trail 2013" website
Link to "Tikwalus Heritage Trail Hope Mountain Centre" website
Link to " Just Over the Mountain - Kwantlen Polytechnic University" website

1860 Donald Smith (HBC chief trader) at North West River. LAC, Acc. No. 1988-245-1 William Hind 1860

Rare Books and Special Collections UBC, 1874

Rare Books and Special Collections UBC, 1874

1884 Mistahi maskwa (Big Bear ca. 1825-1888), a Plains Cree chief, trading. LAC, PA-118768, Oliver Buell 1884

1900 Indian women scraping and stretching deer skin, North West Territories. LAC, PA-047987, 1900?

1922 Old fur baler, [Fort] Norman, N.W.T. LAC, PA-102571, J. F. Moran 1922

1900 Trappers' Outfitting. LAC, PA-031750, 1900-1925

1900 1 1/2 million dollars worth of furs ready for shipment by scows from McMurray to Waterways, Alta. LAC, PA-046084, 1900

"The present Dominion emerged not in spite of geography but because of it."
                                           Harold Adams Innis, The Fur Trade in Canada, 1930

1950 Angulalik and his family at Perry River (Kuugjuaq), Nunavut. [Left to right: Mary Posoktok, Margaret Kuptana, Mabel Ekvana holding baby Lena Tuiligakyok]. LAC, PA-175729,  S. J. Bailey 1950

1975? Seals and Sealing. LAC, Acc. No. 1983-33-1612, 1975?