CURRENCY AND COUREURS
Beaver skins dominate the trade of Canada and determine the character of its life. The coureurs and their unending conflict with authority. Various types of couriers--the striking examples of Daniel du Lhut and Nicholas Perrot. The recall of. Frontenac.
The bishop, with the King and his ministers, had small interest in an expanding domain. Their interest was in a secure and restricted community that would assure a steady flow of beaver skins through easily supervised channels. Had it been possible for them to achieve this end, the story of France in the New World would have been vastly different. Had it been possible, the whole pattern of the next century and its unending conflict might have changed too. Perhaps but for the beaver this might have been the fact. The development of the years ahead would have come in time, but not until some other incentive had taken the place of beaver skins and had helped to inspire and underwrite the adventurous urge of man.
Quite rightly is the beaver an unofficial national emblem of Canada. This intelligent and industrious animal that combined with these fine qualities an equally fine coat was the spark plug of an era. Beaver skins were almost currency in the New World. They were as negotiable, perhaps even more so, as money. The minutes of the Hudson's Bay Company of 1681 show that bundles of skins were being traded in London at 14s, 6d per pound.
It was a business that fluctuated like the figures on a stockbroker's board as the news was good or bad. In the case of the Hudson's Bay Company, of course, good news boded ill for the French and vice versa. In 1688, despite hazards and uncertainty, the company declared a dividend of 50 per