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English Colonies | France vs England | Fur Trade | HBC | The Mississippi | Le Petite Guerre | Containment | New France | Preparations | War | Treaty of Paris

The development of the fur trade had exploded once the fashion demands of Europe had acquired an insatiable desire for felt hats made from the short hairs of the Beaver. The fur trade had formed an important part of the early economies of both the English and French colonies.

The initial system was based upon some Indian groups trying to control the trade by playing the middleman between the European settlers and other outlaying Indian nations. This developed into a system where the colonists began to travel to the hinterland to trade directly with the native groups and eventually the French Coureurs des Bois began to lay their own trap lines and would travel thousands of miles each year by canoe.

The English decided upon a different approach when they claimed the Hudson Bay and all of the lands that had waters which flowed into the Bay. This system fell under a private company - The Hudson Bay Company - which was granted it's charter by King Charles II in 1670. The HBC constructed trading posts called forts, factories or Houses at the mouths of rivers, along the western shore of the Hudson Bay and initially relied on the natives travelling down the rivers to trade their furs. As sources and the quality of the furs began to deteriorate, the Bay men used the natives to help them explore and establish new forts further and further away from the Hudson Bay.

The expansion of these two fur trading systems inevitably brought them into contact and conflict. There were only so many furs and the question became who was going to secure and dominate the trade. It is an interesting fact that the furs from Canada were usually considered to be more desirable due to the colder winters and hence the greater development of the fur to keep the animals warm.