Essay/Term paper: Fur traders

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Humanities

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Trapping is a very important issue, which is connected

to many other larger issues. For instance, trapping lies at the

heart of the First Nation's distinct society issue. Before I talk

about the present, however, I would like to discuss whether

trapping should have been illegal when Canada was first

being settled in the 17th and 18th centuries. When the first

explorers came to the new world, it was regarded as a huge

slab of worthless rock standing between Europe and the

riches of the Orient. The only reason these explorers even

explored this continent was the hope of finding the

North-West passage, a route to the Orient. Fortunately,

while searching for this North-West passage, some of these

explorers stumbled onto a virtual magnet for settlement: The

Fur Trade. When people heard how pelts of all kinds could

be obtained so easily and sold for so much, the idea of not

settling in the new world was ridiculous. Suddenly settlers

came to this "slab of worthless rock" and tried to set up

permanent living there. Even after a few failed attempts the

draw of the fur trade was responsible for the settlement we

call New France. After the first steps toward a permanent

colony in the new world were made, the next steps came in

leaps and bounds. The French government was sending

everyone they could to settle in New France. Courieurs de

Bois, began coming to the colony to trap furs and sell them

back in France. France granted land to poor people that

were willing to risk the great voyage. The colony flourished,

and grew. It was the fur trade that was mostly responsible

for this colony. However, some think that by this point the

colony was large enough to illegalize fur trapping and still

remain a profitable colony for France. However, there is one

major reason that fur trading should have been allowed:

Relations with the Indians. Relations with the Indians were

shaky, at best. Some Indians befriended the French, and

some befriended the English. Some just gave their furs to the

highest bidder. The relationship with the Indians was more

than just a trade agreement. The wars of the Indians were

the wars of the French. Now, imagine what would happen if

one day, an Indian came to a Frenchman and offered him a

pelt. The Frenchman tells the Indian that not only will he not

buy it, but no Frenchman in New France will. Not only that,

trapping furs in the forests belonging to the French was not

allowed. The relationships with the Indians which had taken

so long to establish would be shattered in days. The Indians

would probably recognize the French as their enemies. Now

not only the enemies of the Indian "friends" of the French

would attack them, but also their "friends". Settlers would

again become afraid to come to New France because of the

fierce Indian attacks. The French colony in New France

would cease to exist. Therefore, I think trapping should have

been legal then. Now that I have talked about fur trapping

then, I'll talk about it now. Unfortunately, it is much more

complicated now. Animal rights activists have told us that it

is wrong to kill an animal for its fur. I strongly agree with this

opinion, especially since man-made fur is so accessible.

Unfortunately, there are people who feel they deserve real

fur if they can pay for it. Although I disagree with them, you

cannot just deny them the fur, because one way or another

they will arrange to get it. Even so, trapping (for fur) should

be illegal. If you want real fur, you should not kill wild

animals. You should go to a farm where animals are raised

for their fur. The problem of people wanting real fur is small

compared to other problems for and against the fur trade.

For instance, if we illegalize trapping, the First Nation's way

of life would be totally disrupted. Not letting the First Nation

trap is like taking away a large profession from us, for

instance law. What would all the lawyers do if suddenly

practising law was illegal? The First Nations, I believe,

should be allowed to continue trapping as long as it is under

limits. However, I believe that, after all, their ancestors had

such a successful relationship with the land that trapping

within limits should not be a problem. Another problem that

would arise if trapping is illegalized is that it is said that too

many predators (wolves, etc.) would roam the forests and

be dangerous to farms with livestock on them. It is said that

trapping keeps the populations of these predators low, so

they will not pose as much of a threat to farms. In

conclusion, I feel that trapping today should be legal within

strict limits that allow for the way of life of the native peoples

and for the balance of nature, but do not permit gratuitous

killing of animals.  

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