LAKE MICHIGAN

Inkjet print of digital illustration on canvas

The first European explorers began to settle in North America during the 1600s. Upon the arrival of French and British travelers, the discovery of thriving and expansive populations of animals with thick fur was made and quickly reported to their home countries. Countless fur trading companies were established in North America, and the market for fur pelts, predominantly that of the North American Beaver, boomed for the next two hundred years. Several forts were built on the shores of the Great Lakes as depot centers and trading posts, including Fort Michilimackinac, as a means to trade with indigenous people and export furs through the St. Lawrence Seaway and back to Europe. Water travel proved to be much more efficient than traveling by foot on land, and European explorers learned to use birch bark canoes and flotillas when interacting with the natives.

 

Pictured: – Paper birch trees; Four Bull of the Assiniboine people and a French voyageur ca. 1899, wearing the Hudson’s Bay Company coat; Fort Michilimackinac ca. 1920s; European fur traders in a birch bark canoe ca. 1922; the North American beaver.

© 2020 Alison Burnell

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