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EXPLORERS AND FUR TRADERS
"I said to a man who stood at the gate of the year, 'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown,' and he replied, 'Go forth and put your hand into the hand of God, and it shall be for you better than a light, and safer than the known way.''' (From a greeting to the Empire by King George VI).
The above quotation is very fitting when we apply it to the explorers, the first white men to venture into the unknown, wild, northern and western regions of Canada. Certainly they showed no fear of the 'unknown' when they came to a land which held countless hardships in those days.
Many names of explorers and traders have been listed in history:
Henry Hudson, the Frobisher brothers, Samuel Hearne, Alexander Henry, Groseilliers, Radisson, Henry Kelsey, James Knight, John Macdonell, Pangman, Oakes, Boyer, Fulton, Rene Jusaume, John Pritchard, Peter Fidler, Donald McKay, Anthony Henday, Ronald Cameron, Peter Grant, Legardeur de St. Pierre, Thomas Currie, James Finley, Chevalier de la Corne, David Thompson and Sieur de la Verendrye are just a few of them!
Imagine, if you can, a country largely covered by forests in which wild animals of various kinds were numerous, where Indians who resented intrusion were the only .human inhabitants, where mosquitoes dined on every bit of bare flesh they could find, and you will have a vague picture of what Manitoba was like at one time, and a greater appreciation for the bravery of the explorers and fur traders who came here.
Jacques Cartier found the opening on the eastern coast of Canada (which became known as the Gulf of St. Lawrence), and managed to get as far as the rapids of Lachine near Montreal. He also found a water-route which he felt could be used to explore the interior further. Fishermen (Europeans) who came later to the Gulf of St. Lawrence had the first dealings with the Indians and the first inkling of the wealth of resources in furs that were in the interior of Canada. While drying their cod fish on land they traded various small items, such as fish hooks, etc. for beaver robes or any fur garments that the Indians were wearing that caught their fancy. A demand for furs on the European market came next and resulted in the French fur trade.
Henry Hudson went to his tragic death unaware of the fact that he had found a route to the greatest fur field in the world. Groseilliers and Radisson (who was his brother-in-law) and through