Hands-On Canadian History: The Fur Trade Game

The fur trade was the original basis for the growth, foundation, and success of Canada’s beginning. Wealthy Europeans were eager to buy hats made of beaver fur and the supply here was plentiful. The demand lasted nearly 200 years.

Quality beaver pelts set the value of what things were worth and it seems that most trades were based on this value. For example, 1 beaver pelt could be traded for: coloured beads, gunpowder, a shirt, a set of knives, or even some sugar. It cost 11 beaver pelts to get a musket. Find out more about beaver pelts and what you could trade them for.

Hands On Canadian History: The Fur Trade Game

The Trading Post: A Fur Trade Game

This printable game is based on the examples of how the trading system worked. Beaver pelts were the most sought-after fur of all the animals, but other furs were traded too.

The game is essentially a scavenger hunt, with one person being the shopkeeper and the others trappers out on the hunt. First, you print out the animal cards and ledgers – if you have several kids playing, you might consider making a double copy of the animals so they can hunt longer. Once they have all been cut out, the shopkeeper hides them all around the house before the game begins.

When the game starts, trappers head out hunting for animals. At first, all they can collect are deer and raccoons. 3 deer cards or 2 raccoon cards can be traded in to be equivalent to 1 beaver card. Trappers can choose to trade in 1 beaver pelt for a knife (allowing them to now collect beaver card), or 8 beaver pelts for a musket (that they can use to collect bears.) The goal of the game is to collect the most beaver pelt value.

The shopkeeper is in charge of using the ledgers to keep track of everyone’s furs. After all the cards have been collected (or all the ones you find during the game, because it’s likely you will find some stragglers after the game is over), the trading post totals up everyone’s card values, subtracting the cost of the weapons they’ve bought, to see who was the most successful.

This game was oodles of fun in our house, and all the kids participated – from Pre-K to Grade 7. It has also been used in classes, co-ops, and libraries all over Canada.

One interesting side lesson from this was having a great visual example of how prolific wildlife was when settlers first arrived and how soon it became sparse, demonstrating exactly how the fur trade really caused havoc and endangered the beaver.

See all 31 Days of  Hands-on Canadian History.

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31 Comment(s)

  • by Dale Racinsky Posted February 10, 2018 8:50 am

    I entered my email address, received confirmation, put in my password and still could not download the fur trade game.

    • by LisaMarie Posted February 16, 2018 1:55 pm

      Think I found out the problem. Popped you an email. 🙂

    • by Tanya Posted March 11, 2018 3:23 pm

      I entered my email but I have not received a response? Can you please help me. This game looks amazing.



      • by LisaMarie Posted March 12, 2018 6:54 am

        Hi Tanya,

        The system sent you a confirmation email one minute before you posted this message. 🙂 Check all your folders (including spam, promotions, etc) to see if you can find the one called ”
        Important: Confirm your Subscription to The Canadian Homeschooler”

        As soon as you click the confirmation button, you should be sent to the printables page! 🙂

        Let me know.

  • by Kelly Posted February 26, 2018 9:51 am

    I am having the same issue…

    • by LisaMarie Posted February 28, 2018 7:25 am

      HI Kelly,

      I’ll pop you an email.

      Lisa Marie.

  • by Lindsay Gray Posted March 6, 2018 6:43 pm

    Hi there! I am having the same issue! I subscribed but cannot download this game.

    • by LisaMarie Posted March 6, 2018 6:56 pm

      Hi Lindsay,
      I’m sorry that you are having a hard time.
      What exactly is happening – because I can’t figure out what the problem is? Can you let me know?
      Lisa Marie.

  • by Emily Posted March 7, 2018 11:43 am

    Hi! I am also having this issue! Really hoping to use this soon though! 🙂

    • by LisaMarie Posted March 8, 2018 6:57 am

      … I wish I knew exactly what the problem is that you guys are having. All the steps are working for me. I’ll email you. Sorry that it’s not working for you!

      • by Kaitie Posted March 11, 2018 11:11 am

        May I also receive the game? Thanks!

        • by LisaMarie Posted March 12, 2018 6:56 am

          HI Katie,

          The system sent you a confirmation email one minute before you posted this message. Check all your folders (including spam, promotions, etc) to see if you can find the one called ”Important: Confirm your Subscription to The Canadian Homeschooler”

          As soon as you click the confirmation button, you should be sent to the printables page! Let me know!

          • by RoxAnne Posted July 23, 2018 6:06 pm

            I clicked confirm but did not get the game. 🙁

          • by LisaMarie Posted August 2, 2018 3:55 pm

            Hi RoxAnne,
            I’m not sure what you clicked confirm on? Have you been to the new learning centre and signed up for the free membership there? When you do that, you just have to sign in and under “Printables Library” there’s a tab called challenge cards. They are in there. Just click to open and save! I hope that helps.

  • by Robyn B. Posted March 26, 2018 10:07 am

    I entered my email and it said that I would receive a confirmation email, but I never did… I checked all my email folders, but nothing has been found. I would really like to do this activity with my class!

    • by LisaMarie Posted March 28, 2018 8:17 am

      Hi Robyn,
      It looks like your email address was wrong when you subscribed, so I’ve fixed it. Let me know if you get the emails now!

  • by Chelsea Posted April 2, 2018 2:07 pm

    Worked perfectly for me. Thank you SO much! This is a great resource. I can’t wait to try it with my class 😀

  • by Jen Posted April 8, 2018 3:07 pm

    Can you see if my request went through? I’ve waited a few hours and checked my other box. Not sure how long it usually takes. Thanks!

    • by LisaMarie Posted April 10, 2018 7:56 am

      I checked for you and it looks like you were sent the confirmation email right away, but never clicked on it. Make sure to check all your junkmail boxes, etc. If it still hasn’t come through, pop me an email and we’ll try again! lisamarie@thecanadianhomeschooler.com

  • by Ashley Posted April 25, 2018 11:04 am

    I’m having the same problem. Email entertained and I still can’t download 🙁

    • by LisaMarie Posted May 1, 2018 6:11 am

      Hey Ashley,
      What exactly is the problem? Are you getting to the password protected page? All you have to do is enter the password from the confirmation email and it will open the library. The Fur Trade Cards are near the top under Canadian History. I hope that you’ve been able to get logged in already.
      Lisa Marie.

  • by Kelsey Posted May 14, 2018 12:18 am

    Hello, I subscribed and everything but when I click on the download it opens up a window that is all jibberish!! I’d love to get a copy of the trading cards as soon as possible! Thanks so much

    • by LisaMarie Posted May 14, 2018 5:56 pm

      Hi Kelsey,

      There was a problem with my download tool, but it should be working now! Sorry about that!

  • by jessica Posted May 17, 2018 11:39 am

    I cannot get this printable email me please

    • by LisaMarie Posted May 21, 2018 8:32 pm

      Hi there.

      I’ve created a new free membership which will allow people to access them with their own passwords. You can find it here: https://shop.thecanadianhomeschooler.com/library

      Please let me know if that works or if you need any more help.

      Thanks. 🙂

      Lisa Marie.

      • by Damion Posted July 1, 2018 1:37 pm

        Hi there, it won’t let me join because of password strength, regardless of the password I create. Please help!

  • by The Hunter’s Wife Posted September 20, 2018 12:39 am

    I don’t know if someone has brought this to your attention yet, but your deer picture is actually an elk. You may want to fix that. There is a huge difference between the two and I’m sure you don’t want kids learning their Canadian animals incorrectly. That wouldn’t make them very good hunters and trappers would it. Looks like a fun game otherwise.

    • by LisaMarie Posted September 22, 2018 8:45 am

      Thanks for the information. At this time, I’m not sure I can make that change, but it’s good to at least be aware of it! Thanks.

  • by Deepika Posted October 15, 2018 8:40 pm

    Hi there! Just reading about this game and wondering if there’s debrief material to help kids discuss the Indigenous, settler and metropole dynamics of the Canadian fur trade. If not, do you have any additional information that you can share about such issues?

    • by LisaMarie Posted October 18, 2018 1:18 pm

      Sorry I don’t currently have any resources put together about the fur trade and all the dynamics that were involved right now. :/

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