The fur trade was an interesting time in our country’s history – the collaboration of multiple culture groups, the wilds of the country contrasting against the wants of a long-established society. Canada was built on the backs and arms of men who lived here, trapping and trading each other. That’s what this game from the Saskatchewan Archeological Society is all about – learning about this time period of our past. It’s called Trappers and Traders: A Fur Trade Game.
WHAT IS THE TRAPPERS AND TRADERS GAME?
This interactive, multi-player game attempts to bring the experience of the fur trading days to life. Inside the box are 4 sets of colour-coded cards along with matching paper pads. The colours represent four different groups: Hudson’ Bay Company, North West Company, a First Nations Trading Party, and a Metis Trading Party. The cards represent the different products/trade goods that each group begins with, while the paper pads represent the list of resources that each is aiming to trade for during the game. The idea is to create teams of trading parties and to work to find trades with each other. The team that gets their list completed wins.
INTERESTING FEATURES OF TRAPPERS AND TRADERS
- The cards feature four languages – English, French, Plains Cree (“Y” dialect), and Michif – all around the edges. It’s a really neat way to see how these languages are both similar and different. It’s fascinating.
- The artwork is all hand-drawn. I love this because they make the cards really beautiful and personal.
- Each trading party has very unique goods. I personally found it really insightful to see what the different groups have as starting trade goods. The Hudson’s Bay company has things like canned goods, teapots and tea, paper, and leather boots. The Metis group’s goods include sashes, herbs & fruits, beaded bags, skins and furs, and pemmican. The First Nations group offers snowshoes, mortar & pestle, canoes, as well as hides and meat. The North West Party starts with resources like medicine, tools, rifles and gunpowder, and flint stones. What each community has to offer and holds in value is very unique.
- There are a few extension ideas. Beyond playing the game, there are ideas included on how to learn more – such as looking at the languages, studying the various trading items, and exploring the history of each group.
PLAYING THE TRAPPERS AND TRADERS GAME IN OUR HOMESCHOOL
The fur trade is a pretty fun and exciting time in Canada’s history, so playing interactive games like this really helps to bring the experience to life a little more for students and children who don’t have this same experience today. We decided to play this game in our homeschool.
This game was designed to be used in a group setting. You are supposed to create 4 teams which we were able to do, but we only had one person per team. They recommend having at least 2 people per team. If you don’t have enough people to have 4 teams, this game can’t really be completed since you need to trade from each group. I think this could be a great game for homeschoolers who participate in co-op groups or have a group of friends they can play with.
We learned that trading is a challenging skill! Figuring out how much your valuable item means to another person can be tricky, especially when you want to trade for something you desperately want or need. Figuring out how to work with one group to get something that another might need so that you can get an item on your list takes some serious thinking! It was really easy to be willing to throw cards into deals and then realize that you had kind of used up your leverage for future trades! Definitely a good challenge.
We really enjoyed this game. The feedback offered by the kids was that this game is fun but challenging.
SOME IDEAS & SUGGESTIONS FOR CONTINUED LEARNING
- I know it’s beyond the scope of this game, but I really wish there were some way to hear the words in the languages included. I have no idea how to pronounce any of the Cree words correctly, and I know that Michif has some really unique inflections that I’m not sure I can mimic without guidance. I think this could easily be a natural flow learning opportunity from playing this game. (I found this list of resources about learning the Cree language: https://newjourneys.ca/articles/resources-for-learning-cree and this one about learning Michif: http://www.learnmichif.com/language)
- Play the Fur Trade Game. This is a seek-and-find game that I’ve made where children have to hunt for animals to trade in for credit to the trading post.
- This game is a fantastic opportunity to role play. Each of these trading parties has characteristics that are unique. I think it could totally be fun to learn about each of them in more detail, then create costumes and trading centres based on these qualities that you’ve studied.
WHERE TO GET TRAPPERS AND TRADERS
Trappers and Traders: A Fur Trade Card Game is available directly from the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society here: http://thesas.ca/product/trappers-and-traders-card-game/