St Lawrence Traders

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The French government supported the St. Lawrence traders by defending their territorial claims to the region and encouraging the activities of French missionaries in their work of converting the Indians to Roman Catholicism. Montreal (originally known as Ville-Marie) was founded in 1642 as a centre for missionary activity, but it soon became the base of the expanding continental fur trade. The French trade was conducted by private companies granted monopoly trading powers by the French king in exchange for commitments to promote settlement and the work of the Church. Between 1627 and 1645 the trade and the administration of New France were entrusted to the Compagnie des Cent Associés, established by Cardinal Richelieu to improve the settlement…show more content…
The English established posts in the Hudson River Valley and, allied with the Iroquois, engaged in a fierce competition with the French traders (allied mainly with the Hurons) for control of the trade in the central interior region. Until the early 18th century most of the latter were organized as independent proprietors or partnerships but, as the Montreal-based trade expanded further into the continental interior, increasing amounts of capital were required and a number of larger organizations were formed. Most of these were financed by wealthy Montreal "bourgeois", some of whom organized small companies to lease trading posts and hire workers to voyage west each spring with trade goods and bring back furs in the fall. (Some historians speculate that these fur-trading groups, largely concentrated in Montreal, constituted the beginning of a local, French Canadian business class, the further development of which was cut short by the British conquest in the 1760’s.) The trade goods they used were usually obtained through other Montreal merchants, some of whom also acted as intermediaries in marketing the furs in France. By the outbreak of the Seven Years’ War in 1756 the Montreal fur trade had expanded westward through the southern part of the Canadian Shield, south into the upper part of the Mississippi Valley and west across the prairies to the foothills of the Rocky
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