The fur trade in 1761

From the London Chronicle , Vol. 9. Guernsey and Jersey are accused of helping the French to put British fur traders in Canada out of business; the claim is denied.

Extract of a Letter from a Merchant in Quebec to his Correspondent in London, dated March 4, 1761.

About a fortnight ago the British merchants of this place laid a memorial before Governor Murray, complaining of the hardships laid upon them in particular, as well as upon the nation in general, by the 16th, 37th, and 48th articles of the capitulation of Canada. By these articles, the French have liberty to export to France whatever peltries they may have, without being confined to any particular time or quantity, for which purpose they are, moreover, to be found with British vessels at any time. By this means the French have got possession of the fur trade as fully as before the conquest of Canada, and run no other risque than that of the sea, in sending it home; the consequence of which is, that the French merchants being better acquainted with the country than the British, the former engross all the fur trade, and even import goods of the manufactures of France, by the way of Guernsey and Jersey, by which means they will always be enabled to engross the fur trade, and laugh at all the efforts of the British merchants to share it with them; so that if a stop is not put to the French exportation of furs, and to their importation of French goods by the way of Guernsey and Jersey, adieu to the British trade in Canada; it will be in vain to import anything more than the trifle that may be wanting for the use of the troops.

May 14-16.



I do not know how, but an opinion is made generally to prevail, that we are not likely to retain both Canada and Guadalupe; in consequence of which we are continually pestered with reasons for preferring the latter.

These can be no other than the artifices of self interested persons, and particularly those concerned in a certain hurtful monopoly, who, it is to be suspected, will leave no stone unturned for sacrificing the greatest advantages of the Public to the securing of their own interests. Hence have we had all the arts of fallacy exercised in forming comparative estimates in favour of Guadalupe, without ever mentioning the great difference in the circumstances of the reduction of them; and since that has been set in a clear light, their inventions have been employed to invalidate facts, by representing the conditions of the surrender of Canada, as unfavourable for trade and the security of possession, as those of the surrender of Guadalupe, which is an actual falsehood; for the surrender of Canada was absolute and full.

A pretended letter from Quebec, therefore, that has been published in our newspapers, carries obviously, on the face of it, sure marks of imposture. There can be no commerce carried on with France and that colony, by way of Guernsey and Jersey, but with the absolute consent and assistance of the Governor; which it must be base and injurious to suppose he has been guilty of, or that he would be continued in his government, if such facts had been proved.

It is well known, that no French can remain in Canada but those who take the oaths to our government, and all the conditions in favour of those who depart, are, that they shall be transported to France with the effects that belong to them. All mercantile stock was fixed to what was on hand; and if they have liberty to carry off that with them, they can be entitled to nothing farther; the whole commerce in future must continue with us.

We should consider, that the surrender of Canada was made but at the end of last summer; and therefore at the beginning of this there might remain some French effects to ship off; which done, there is an entire end of their traffic with that country. And it is further to be remarked, that there has not yet been time for her opening the channels of trade complained of through Guernsey and Jersey; so that the pretended complaint is an evident imposture, and such as should guard us against the deceptions of its inventors.

SIMPLICIUS. From the Guernsey and Jersey Magazine, 1834, on 'The commerce of Jersey': 'There are, besides, a number of various kinds of skins imported, such as seal skins, both salted and dry, of which, in 1833, there were 1706 tale, brought here, and, in 1831, there were 11567 tale; and hare, martin, beaver, squirrel, otter, fox, and musk-rat skins, but the quantity of these is not important.' Those skins which were not used in Jersey were sent to England.