In 1670, the Hudson's Bay Company received a charter from King Charles II of England to establish a fur-trade monopoly in northern Canada. The charter gave the company the right to exploit all areas that drained into Hudson Bay. Ironically, the Hudson's Bay Company's most energetic employees were Pierre Esprit Radisson and Médart Chouart de Groseilliers. The pair had played a leading role in extending the French fur-trade network to the west; however, they had serious disagreements with Jean Talon, Intendant of New France. As a result, Radisson and Groseilliers offered their services to England, the main competitor to France in the fur trade. Specifically, they approached the English with their plan of bypassing the St. Lawrence-Great Lakes route and establishing new fur-trade outposts around Hudson's Bay. England like their ideas and, in 1670, created the Hudson's Bay Company. The Hudson's Bay Company constructed several fortified trading posts, or "factories," on the western coast of Hudson Bay and James Bay. The beaver pelts from these northern regions were of a very high quality, and the English company hoped to undermine the French fur-trade network that was based in the lands north of the Great Lakes. First Nations seldom abandoned allies for economic reasons, however, and the French fur trade continued to prosper.

Competition for furs would induce the English to take steps to disrupt the French trading network. For example, they established a strong relationship with the Iroquois Confederacy (the Five Nations-Mohawk, Seneca, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Oneida). The English provided vast stores of weapons and ammunition to the Iroquois and encouraged them to renew their attacks on the French settlements in Canada.

 

Copyright © 2015 The Loyal Edmonton Regiment Museum
Prince of Wales Armouries Heritage Centre
10440 - 108 Ave, Edmonton