It was the search for furs that drove Europeans to explore the vast continent of Canada and the interior of the USA. Many Canadian cities began as fur trading posts. Even the border between Canada and the USA reflects territories staked out by competing fur companies in their dash for the Pacific Ocean.
It was first and foremost beaver that fuelled the historic Canadian fur trade and the beaver is still one of the most abundant wild furs produced in Canada. Most wild furs are sold through producer-owned auctions: North American Fur Auctions based in Toronto and the Fur Harvester’s Auctions Inc. (North Bay). The renewed fashion interest in wild furs is good news for Canadian trappers; fur sales support the livelihood and cultures of people living in the most remote regions of this country. Beaver, muskrat and other fur animals also provide food for many aboriginal and other Canadians. Meat not eaten by trappers and their families is returned to the woods to feed hungry wildlife through the winter – nothing is wasted!
Not least important, trappers are our “eyes and ears” on the land. We all care about nature but most of us now live in cities. Trappers are the ones who are out there to see what is happening on the land, they are often the first to sound the alarm when wildlife habitat is threatened.
The trade in trapped furs supports some 60,000 Canadians and contributes $Canadian 800milliion to the Canadian economy, including more than $Canadian 400 million to exports. Fur trapping is strictly regulated by provincial and territorial government wildlife biologists.