Note: One of the pictures on this post looks super stretched out but I can’t figure out how to fix it. It looks fine in the previews, sorry!
Inquiry question: To what extent would the fur trade been different had Ochasteguin and his people (Huron-Wendat) not won the fight against Haudenosaunee Confederacy?
A. Outline the focus of your inquiry and provide background knowledge. Why is this an important and significant questions to ask about the past? Provide evidence from primary and secondary sources.
The fur trade took a big role in helping shape Canada’s history, culture, and early settlements. The first European settlement in Canada was built by Samuel de Champlain and his men, which soon was to become a fur-trading centre. However, sending fur to France would have been nearly impossible without access to the St. Lawrence river. By becoming allies with the Huron-Wendat peoples and assisting them with defeating the Iroquois, Samuel de Champlain won access to the river and the ability to exclusively export beaver fur to Europe. But by choosing to side with the Huron-Wendat, New France also faced a bitter rivalry with the Iroquois, “While sleeping, I dreamed that I saw our enemies, the Iroquois, drowning in the lake near a mountain” (163, Voyages of Samuel de Champlain, 1604-1618). If the Iroquois won the battle, they would have not granted him and New France access to the St. Lawrence. Had they not gained access to the St. Lawrence, a lower amount of fur, if any at all would have reached Europe, resulting in less beaver fur in circulation and higher-costing beaver hats.
This is an important question to ask because since the fur-trade was such a major role in shaping Canada’s current values, what the result would be if New France didn’t have the ability to export furs down the St. Lawrence. At first glance beaver hats seem like an insignificant if not at all significant part of Canadian history. However hats were such a trend in England, that 3.3 million hats were made (about one person per hat). The popularity and demand grew so steeply, that within the first six decades of the century, the trend spread to new areas and beaver fur accounted for two-third of all export trades received in Portugal. The influx of profits to the French allowed them to send over more men to New France and allow permanent residents to immigrate, creating a lasting society and eventually the first Canadians.
Ethical Judgement: Is what happened right and fair by the values and standards of the time? How about from our current values and standards? Explain.
It’s hard to say whether or not what happened was right and fair by the values and standards of the time. Battling to the death for something wasn’t an uncommon practice, but it’s hard to determine whether or not having a literal ‘secret weapon’ was fair or not. There is no clear source for the terms agreed upon during the battle against the Iroquois, but since they have never dealt (or even heard of) firearms in the past, it was definitely something they weren’t expecting.
In our current society, people tend to be more civil and use the law to sort out their disagreements. Since there was no concrete written law, and crimes and their punishments could be argued more freely. There wasn’t the technology back then to prove if someone was guilty or not, so people could get away with huge crimes that people have no chance of getting away with today. That being said, it’s unfair to compare our values to theirs. But again, determining whether or not pulling out a gun in bow fight is fair is a grey-area. Hypothetically, if two groups of people were to fight to the death in this day and age, I would think that rules would be set in place deeming what would make a fair fight.
Cause and Consequence: Why did your researched questions happen the way they did and what were the consequences?
The one piece of technology that helped Samuel de Champlain win the battle against the Iroquois and ultimately decide the course of Canada’s history was firearms, more specifically his arquebus. None of the First Nations had ever seen, not to mention fought against, anything of that sort. Even though the First Nation’s arrows were much more accurate, they only prepared themselves with armour made of cotton and wood, which were plenty defense against arrows but no match for the arquebus.
By using his firearm, Samuel de Champlain was able to shoot two of men with one musket ball, one of them being the chief. The Iroquois were so shocked by the speed and seemingly effortless execution, that they soon fled the battle.
B. What conclusions can you make about your questions based on the research your conducted?
Based on my research, I can conclude that the growth of the New France settlement would have occured much slower and possibly never reached the size to allow the first Canadians to be born. The amount of income that beaver furs provided for the French was what lead to an immigration to New France, increase in settlements, and growth of the society. Without the first steps of defeating the Iroquois in battle and gaining access to the St. Lawrence, the fur trade would have never been as successful as it was, affecting Canada heavily in the future.
Secondary source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWdOQE459vg&t=265s