Two Rivals Compete
The Northwest Company began operations in 1783 and went into direct competition with the Hudson’s Bay Company in Canada. Two explorers for the company, David Thompson and Simon Fraser, pushed heavily into the Rocky Mountains in the late 18th century. Thompson would build the Saleesh House trading post in 1809 near what is today Thompson Falls.
The Northwest Company fell on hard times the next year when there was a sharp-decrease in animals for fur, particularly the beaver, due to overharvesting. The company also took some hits when their post Sault Ste. Marie was destroyed in the War of 1812. New fur trading regulations took effect in British North America beginning in 1821, and the company just couldn’t continue on its own.
Two Rivals Combine
The total land area under the Hudson’s Bay Company increased to 3,000,000 square miles, and their total employees increased to 1,500. Nearly the entirety of all the trading going on in the Pacific Northwest was controlled by the Hudson’s Bay Company.
But new upstarts were already on the scene, and edging into the profits of an already dwindling trade.
Fashion trends in Europe were changing, and the once popular fur-hats that were so often worn by fashionable of the courts and salons of Europe gave way to the newest thing from the Orient, silk. Silk hats became all the vogue, and the fur hats that had supported the lives of countless thousands, opened up the West to European and later American expansion, and created an American mythos, simply went by the wayside.
Bryce, George. The Remarkable History of the Hudson's Bay Company. New York: B. Franklin, 1968
Schwörer, Ute. The Reorganization of the Fur Trade of the Hudson's Bay Company After the Merger with the North West Company, 1821 to 1826. Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 1988
“Timeline: A Brief History of the Fur Trade.” White Oak Society. Web. Retrieved 23 March 2013. http://www.whiteoak.org/historical-library/fur-trade/time-line-a-brief-history-of-the-fur-trade/