Fur Trade Collections

The Canadian Encyclopedia tells us that “for nearly 250 years, from the early-17th to the mid-19th centuries, the fur trade was a vast commercial enterprise across the wild, forested expanse of what is now Canada.” This vast enterprise was at the heart of early relations between local Indigenous communities and the earliest immigrants to Canada. The enterprise is treated in many published books, and Bruce Peel Special Collections is also home to two archival collections on the subject. The Keenlyside Fur Trade Collection (see finding aid), donated by John Keenlyside, contains a variety of business documents, including promissory notes, warrants, and records relating to payments and goods, as well as a selection of Voyageur Contracts from both the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company. Other Keenlyside materials document related political events in Canada (1676–1933), including the formation of the colony of British Columbia and its incorporation into Canada. The second collection, simply called Fur Trade Collection (see finding aid), is a growing collection of textual and graphic materials related to the Hudson's Bay Company, the fur trade in Canada, and early European settlement in Canada, mostly from the early part of the nineteenth century. It includes correspondence between high-ranking employees at Hudson's Bay Company fur trade posts, personal correspondence between settlers or Hudson's Bay Company employees and their families, and Hudson's Bay Company reports, proclamations, contracts, and other records. 

Collection Formats: 17th Century, 18th Century, 19th Century -- click to see other collections with this format