Italian explorer Christopher Columbus discovers new world
English explorer John Cabot sails to North America and brings back accounts of incredibly abundant fisheries.
European fishermen begin to make regular voyages to the fishing water of the Grand Banks and subsequently trade for furs with the Indians they meet on the coast.
French explorer Jacques Cartier and his men trade with Micmac Indians on the coast of New Brunswick, the first documented trading between Europeans and the inhabitants of the New World
French explorer Samuel de Champlain makes first voyage to the New World
New France is founded by Champlain, who recognizes the importance of the fur trade to his colony
English navigator Henry Hudson discovers Hudson Bay and is convinced it is the NW passage to China. His crew mutinies and leaves him to die there while they return to England
Brule travels all the way to the eastern edge of Lake Superior in search of the NW passage
The Iroquis tribes acquire guns from the Dutch traders and begin a 10 year assault on their French and Huron enemies, who control much of the fur trade
French explorer Jean Nicolet travels through the Great Lakes to Green Bay and claims the entire region for France
French traders Pierre Esprit Radisson and Medard Seigneur Chouart des Grosseilliers make an unlicensed fur trading excursion into the interior where they learn from indians of the abundant furs around Hudson Bay
The Hudson's Bay Company is chartered following Grosseilliers's successful trading voyage to the bay on the English ship the Nonsuch
French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet explore the Mississippi River to Arkansas and return to report of abundant furs available along that corridor
Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, and Louis Hennepin travel the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. They claim entire watershed for France and name it Louisiana after King Louis XIV
The Great Peace is signed by the English, French, and various tribes of the Great Lakes, including 39 chiefs. The treaty briefly ends decades of warfare between the indians and colonists
Queen Anne's War is fought between England and Spain and between England and France for colonial territory
France and Spain together fight England for land and power in North America
The French and Indian war begins. the fur trade is disrupted. Most licensed traders and their voaygeurs are called east to fight the British.
New France is conquered by the British. Furs now are shipped to London instead of Paris, and most trade goods are supplied through London
Treat of Paris formally ends the French and Indian war. France gives British all of its land in North America east of Mississippi except for New Orleans. The French land west of the Mississippi, called Louisiana, is given to Spain
Pontiac's War begins when Ottawa war chief Pontiac, united with warriors from many Indian nations, attacks Fort Detroit.
Alexander Henry receives exclusive rights to trade on Lake Superior
British traders are allowed to establish wintering posts among the Indians. Construction of permanent structures at Grand Portage begins.
Traders begin to spread farther north and west of Grand Portage. small partnerships are formed to battle the cut-throat competition between traders.
The American Revolution causes some traders to avoid the areas south of the Great Lakes and encourages them to go farther north and west into what is today Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta
A smallpox epidemic kills thousands throughout the NW
The NW Company is formed. 16 company shares are held by traders and merchants such as McTavish, Peter Pond, Alex Henry, and 3 English brothers named Frobisher. First meeting is at Grand Portage which becomes meeting point for next 20 years
Alexander Mackenzie searches for the NW Passage but instead reaches the Arctic Ocean
Alexander Mackenzie successfully crosses the continent to the Pacific, just over 300 years after Columbus first sailed west. Mackenzies route is difficult and rarely used
The rival XY Company is formed to compete with the NW Company
Alexander Mackenzie joins XY Company
XY Company clerk George Nelson is sent into Northern Wisconsin to build a wintering post and keeps a journal
The U.S. purchases Louisiana territory from French. Lewis and Clark expedition heads west in search of a passage to Pacific
McTavish, leader of NW Company dies, prompting the consolidation of the NW Company and the XY Company
NW Company wintering partner John Sayer builds a trading post on Snake River in east central MN and keeps a journal
The American Fur Company is formed by J.J. Astor
War of 1812 disrupts trade across entire continent. At war's end, the NW Company withdraws from American soil and operates only in Canada
NW Company and Hudson's Bay Company merge under the name Hudson's Bay Company
Silk hats replace beaver felt hats that have been in style for 300 years. Beaver hats are now out of fashion in Europe, signaling the end of the fur trade boom
Joe Neubauer finds a gunflint in a cornfield in east central MN. The site is later discovered to be the NW Company wintering post built by John Sayer and his voyageurs in 1804
MN historical society begins excavating the site of NW Company Fur Post on the Snake River in east central MN