Canada’s western frontier was developed on the back of the fur trade. As an extremely competitive business, the fur trade thrived for nearly 250 years as hunters and trappers attempted to satisfy Europe’s demand for felt. At the centre of the business model were trading posts, which acted as intermediaries between the hunters and trappers and European businesses.
Dependent on their location and role within the fur trade, posts were of varying size and stocked different goods that were available for trade. Each individual post had its own structured social hierarchy where Chief Factors were stationed at a post in command of an entire district whereas principal posts each had Chief Traders in charge. Both roles shared in the profits of the trade and were considered ‘bourgeois’ or middle-to-upper class. Clerks were responsible for bookkeeping and correspondence at each of the posts. Below the officers where the skilled labourers, such as blacksmiths, boatwrights, carpenters, hunters, steersmen, guides, and interpreters. Each of the previous roles were staffed in relation to the needs of the trading post. As you’ll see in this collection of historical photos, the trading posts are all unique in building design and style.
The photos above were collected from the Glenbow Archives and the Provincial Archives of Alberta. If you’re interested, additional information can be found for each photograph on the Glenbow website by searching the identification number that is printed on the photo. There is also the option to purchase a high resolution copy. If you search the object number that can be found in the photo captions, you will find additional information about the photographs on the Provincial Archives website. Stay tuned for additional posts featuring historical photos from across Alberta. We’d love to know what you think in the comment section below.
Tyler is originally from Saskatchewan, and yes he cheers for the Roughriders, but don’t hold that against him as Calgary has been his home for the past eight years. He is a teacher working at a wilderness-
based treatment program for youth working to overcome addiction. Tyler is also a volunteer with the GOT Parks initiative, which aims at reconnecting Canada’s youth with our national, provincial, and territorial parks. During his time away from work, Tyler enjoys outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and snowboarding, team sports, travelling, photography, spending time with good friends, and being at home with his wife and German Shepherd, Rome.
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