Until February 6, 2011
An Epic Journey Across the Continent

Simon McTavish
Simon McTavish (born about 1750) led the North West Company until his death in 1804. Library and Archives Canada

In the late 1700s, the Montreal-based North West Company embarked on a journey that opened an epic chapter of Canada’s history.

Led by ambitious and ruthless partners, this extraordinary consortium brought together Scottish explorers and businessmen, French-Canadian voyageurs, Métis bison hunters, as well as Aboriginal trappers and "country wives". Pushing fur-trade boundaries all the way to the Pacific Ocean, they created a commercial empire and opened new routes across the continent.

Profit and Ambition traces the North West Company’s rise and fall, looks at the accomplishments of the explorers and paints a vivid portrait of the living and working conditions of the people of the fur trade. 

It also introduces visitors to some of the towering figures of Western Canadian exploration, such as Alexander Mackenzie, Simon Fraser, David Thompson and Peter Pond. The exhibition also traces the fierce rivalry between the Montréal-based consortium and the Hudson’s Bay Company.

The Canadian Fur Trade, 1779–1821 Profit and Ambition