Monday, 5 January 2015

IT'S WINTER; LET'S TRADE FURS

MUSEUM MONDAY
BY ALEXANDRA JEFFERY

To have this topic as my Museum Monday might be a bit of a stretch...but technically I'm still on holiday so you'll have to forgive me. Or don't, your choice.

Trappers returning to Morley, Alberta, after a winter in Kananaskis area, 1907.
From the Glenbow Archives NA-695-13
I saw this story about modern day fur trapping in the Edmonton Journal and it caught my interest (this version of the story has a video to watch).  I thought it might be appropriate as we are in the midst of a snow storm while I write this in Calgary. The story made me think about the way that trapping and fur trading is taught, as a past practice rather than an ongoing tradition. The fur trade itself, as we think about it--as in the Hudson's Bay Company and the Northwest Company, was a historical event. And a very important one for western development. But that doesn't mean that fur trading isn't still going on.

Winter's catch of furs from Kananaskis area, Alberta, 1908.
From the Glenbow Archives.

I did some searching around for the way that the fur trade is presented to the public. The Glenbow Museum Archives only has photographs of trapping and the fur trade up to the 1930s or so, there is the Fur Trade National Historic Site at Lachine, there's a whole Museum of the Fur Trade in Nebraska, and a Museum of the Mountain Man in Wyoming--which produces the Fur Trade Journal. As well as the countless fur trade exhibits in Canadian Museums, of which I haven't seen all, but I kind of figure they take a similar perspective; looking at it from a historical view.

I'll leave this a a short post with just those thoughts, I found the story much more interesting than something that I could write about the topic. But I will leave you with this episode of A People's History about the fur trade and Western Canada (it is so very long, but I couldn't find a shorter clip).



1 comment:

  1. What a great start to the new Musings season! I really like the idea of thinking about fur trade today and as a practice which continue to happen, in different conditions, of course. I, like most people, think of fur trade as a foundational moment in Canadian history (I read more extensively about this when I was preparing for my citizenship exam, which speaks to the significance of this event for official history). Fur trade today has different implications which could bring in issues of sustainable fashion systems, global economics and style.

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