Native sons of Rupert's Land 1760 to the 1860s

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Fuchs, Denise.
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In the period from 1760 to the 1860s, native sons of the fur trade of Rupert's Land were distinctly shaped by the disparate traditions of both their European fathers and aboriginal mothers. The success of the fur trade depended on the economic interdependence and mutual cooperation of these two sets of strangers. Their progeny, like their fathers and mothers, aided the British-oriented companies in whose employ they served. The examination of the attitudes which informed the manner in which native sons were depicted in the records and their educational achievements and careers within t e fur trade revealed that cultural and racial biases affected their lives, in both subtle and direct ways. These cultural and racial biases became more obvious from 1820 onward. Social, economic and political changes and the concomitant shifts in attitudes toward the native sons shed light on the particular circumstances which characterized their lives. From the 1790s onwards, native sons began to contribute their labour to the economy of the posts in significant ways. Fathers became more cognizant of the need to prepare their sons for larger roles in the fur trade and began acculturating them further to the European side of their heritage. A British-based education was sought for them. Towards the end of the eighteenth century and in the first two decades of the nineteenth century, some native sons could obtain clerkships and become managers of small posts. The attention to race and class, heightened by the arrival of white women in the 1820s, resulted in the imposition of social barriers dependent on rank and education that excluded some of the native sons and their aboriginal or mixed-descent relatives from circles that had formerly included them Additionally, the newly amalgamated company's adoption of a more rigid hierarchy and the increased emphasis on upward mobility posed difficulties and challenges for the native sons in the three decades following the 1821 merger of the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company, when limits were imposed on their movement within the company. In the 1850s and 60s a shift in attitude occurred and restrictions began to be eased allowing some native sons to advance in the company.