Canada’s Oldest Profession
The fur trade — then and now
The french are not in the habit of emigrating. Though it was a Frenchman, Jacques Cartier, who became the first European to chart the shores of the St. Lawrence River in the 1530s, very few of his countrymen travelled west across the Atlantic in the years that followed. Things changed a half-century later with Henry IV, an ally of Queen Elizabeth I. Henry believed that the prestige, scientific ambition, and national interest of France (then one of the world’s great nation-states) required that the French sail the high seas and stake out territories across the ocean. It was a game of catch-up: the Spanish already had begun this project and were bringing back rich cargoes of gold and silver from the pillaged empires of the Incas, Aztecs, and Mayans in what is now Latin America.