History: The fur trade 1535 – 1842

The term “Royaume”

Upon discovering the region, Jacques Cartier tried as best he could to understand what the native people were telling him. When he returned to Europe, he told then King François I that the lands he discovered were governed by royal authority, and were therefore a hierarchical society they must strive to conquer.

First-Nation peoples, clever and wanting to keep their lands, did everything they could to keep the white people out of the region, preserving the “royaume” (meaning kingdom or realm) myth, which in a way protected them from invasion. Only many years later and after much trading did the Europeans note that, in fact, Jacques Cartier had not understood very well.

The term “royaume” however remained in use and is now an integral part of our history.

La Compagnie des Cent-Associés, or Compagnie de la Nouvelle-France

In 1627, Cardinal Richelieu created the Compagnie des Cent-Associés with its hundred or so members committed to populate New France. The Company’s mission was to develop and explore the lands of New France and make the best of its resources. Everything was to take place over 15 years: 4,000 French-Catholic settlers were to be sent to New France. The company however was unable to fulfill its mandate and, in 1645, transferred its trade monopoly in North America (except for Acadia) to the Communauté des Habitants (or Compagnie des Habitants). On February 24, 1663, the Compagnie des Cent-Associés was dissolved as its mandate was never accomplished.

Pekuakami or Lake Saint-Jean?

Until 1647, the huge lake west of the Saguenay River was referred to as “Pekuakami” by the local people. The “shallow or flat lake” had long been protected by them from invasion by other nations. When Father Jean de Quen, white missionary, decided to follow the Saguenay to its source, he found Pekuakami. That is why Pekuakami has acquired a second, more usual name in honour of Jean de Quen, Lake Saint-Jean.

The Hudson Bay Company

On May 6, 1670, Prince Rupert (England) formed the “Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson’s Bay”. Mostly involved in the fur trade, they had exclusive control over the entire territory containing the rivers and waterways flowing into Hudson Bay, an area of about four million square kilometres. Over the years, after a series of treaties and transfers, the company reoriented its mandate and supplied farmers, developers and settlers with the many tools they needed to do their work. The reorganization marked the beginnings of the modern enterprise know today as “The Bay”.

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