The British in North America
You’ve already thought a lot about trade in this course.
You saw how the First Nations had elaborate trade
systems among themselves and how the French
colonies were focused most on the fur trade with the
First Nations. In the part of New France centred around
Québec (and, after 1642, Ville-Marie, which later
became Montréal), the Wendat were the main trading
partners of the French. Trade, of course, isn’t
something that happened only in the past; it’s what
keeps the world’s economy going today more than ever
Create a T-chart, brainstorm lists of important exports
and imports. Exports are things that Alberta produces
and trades with people in other places—like other
provinces and other countries.
Imports are things Alberta doesn’t produce—or
doesn’t produce much of—and must bring in from
• Exports –oil
• natural gas
• forestry products
Imports• cars and trucks
• farm equipment
• citrus fruits
that an imperialist
rich by selling
resources from its
colonies to other
• Basically, the idea goes like this: A country—
Britain, for instance— should try to export
as much as it possibly can to other countries
and import as little as it possibly can.
• If other countries are buying more from
Britain than they’re selling to it, they buy
those goods with gold. And that gold
coming into Britain and staying there is—so
the theory of mercantilism goes—what
makes Britain wealthy. And that’s where
colonies come in.
• Colonies, remember, aren’t other countries.
They’re owned by the home country—such
as Britain or France.
• So if Britain can get all the furs or fish (as
examples) it needs from its colonies, it
doesn’t have to buy them from another
country. And if Britain gets more than it
needs this way, it can sell those extra furs
and fish to other countries in return for
• So the more colonies a country has, the
richer it should get—according to the
theory of mercantilism.
To learn more about mercantilism, read pages 52 and
53 in Voices and
Visions. Study the diagram on page 53 in particular.
• Speaker #1- I have a question before we go on.
Sometimes we speak of England and English colonies
and sometimes of Britain and British colonies. They’re
the same thing, right?
• Speaker #2- Not exactly but close enough—at least for
our purposes here. The textbook uses both, so be
careful that you don’t get confused. If you’d like to
learn more, read the “England” versus “Britian” green
box on page 102 of Voices and Visions.
• country becomes powerful
• cheap raw materials
• market created for many
especially manufactured ones
• manufacturing jobs created
• colonies expensive to
• colonies need protection
• colonists may rebel
• cheap land available
• imported manufactured
• colonists prevented from
• taxes kept high for defence,
• opportunities provided for
• home country looks after
aspects of life
• market available for raw
• European manufactured
• market available for furs
• land taken by colonies
• traditional lifestyle lost
• hostilities sometimes
• new diseases appear
The British Cross the Atlantic
• Look at the painting that forms the background on pages 52
and 53. It shows part of Halifax—today the capital of Nova
Scotia—and it was done by a British soldier stationed there in
the 1750s. Halifax, by the way, was founded in 1749.
• Is this painting a source of information that historians can rely
on today? Why or why not
• This painting was done by someone there at the time, which
makes it a primary source reference. What’s more, it’s a
painting by a European of a settlement of Europeans, so one
could agree that the problem of cultural bias isn’t great. If so,
it should be a very reliable reference as to what Halifax looked
like in its first years.
• In point form, list five or six things you can learn about Halifax
from this painting.
• It looks clean, neat, and well designed. The streets are very wide. A
lot of money has been invested here.
• • Houses are solid and impressive with brick chimneys.
• • Houses have windows that must have been imported from
• • The people in the streets look quite prosperous.
• • There are sentries posted, and several men seem to be in the
same uniform. Is this a military town?
• • There are more men than women—and only one child. This might
be another indication that this is a military base.
• • There are horses that must have been imported from Europe.
• • It seems quiet; there are few people out and about. Is this
perhaps a Sunday?
• Did it surprise you to learn that the British were
founding communities in Nova Scotia back in
1749? Hadn’t the French been colonizing that
part of the country when they established
Acadia? The fact is that the British and French
empires were very much in competition, though
the sorts of colonies the British were establishing
were rather different from the French ones. In
this lesson you’ll begin to compare and contrast
British and French attempts at colonization.
• How many of the fifty states can you name that make up
the United States of America today? Canadians live so close
to the US, and we’re so connected with American culture
through things like movies, books, and TV shows, that
chances are you can name quite a few. And even if you
can’t think of too many, you’d probably recognize the
names of most states if you heard them.
• The first thirteen colonies that the British established in
North America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
all became states when the United States became an
independent country. So chances are that the names of
those colonies will be familiar to you.
• Map activity, find and place all the states name on the map
and their capitals
• Look at the map on page 55 of Voices and Visions (Figure 3.1) and
you’ll see all thirteen colonies.
• The little outline map of North America inset in the larger map
shows you what part of the continent you’re looking at. These
thirteen British colonies were known, appropriately, as the Thirteen
Colonies. They were also known as New England.
• Why did the British establish thirteen colonies along that strip of
Atlantic seacoast? Why not just one?
• Having learned about French colonizing patterns, you likely have a
good idea as to the reason already, but to learn more, read all of
pages 55 through 58 in Voices and Visions. Be sure to pay close
attention to the charts and diagrams. When you’ve finished
reading, answer the following questions.
Your textbook lists four major reasons for the British decision to
establish colonies in North America:
• • the economy • competition
• • quality of life • religious freedom
• 1.Three of these reasons are quite similar to the reasons for French
colonization, but one is rather different. Identify the different
reason and explain the difference.
• 2.Why did the British establish so many different colonies?
• 3.Study the map/diagram on page 56 of Voices and Visions(Figure
3.2). How does it show mercantilism at work?
• 4.The chart on page 56 of the textbook (Figure 3.3) shows that the
population of the British colonies grew much faster than that of the
French colonies. From what you’ve learned, explain the reasons for
• 5.New France was very different from the New England colonies in
a number of ways, one of which was religion.
• a. Describe this religious difference.
• b. Explain which policy about religion in the colonies you think
was a better idea. Be sure to give your reasons.
• 1. The reason that’s different is the last one—religious
freedom. The official religion in France was Roman Catholicism,
and only Roman Catholics were allowed to immigrate to New
France. However, many people in England who belonged to
churches other than the official one—the Church of England—
sought greater freedom in the New World to practice their
beliefs as they saw fit.
• 2. The king of England, James I, wanted British colonies, but he
didn’t want to spend the vast sums of money needed. So he
granted the right to groups of people to set up British colonies
in New England. This was something like the French idea of
granting a monopoly on the fur trade to merchants in return
for establishing the colony of New France.
• 3. The map/diagram shows the colonies selling raw materials
like tobacco, grain, and iron ore to the home country, England.
In return, English manufacturers sold goods like cloth and guns
to the colonies—no doubt for a lot more money.
• This means that England didn’t have to trade with other
countries for many of its needs. If it continued to sell products
to those countries, it would pocket all that money.
• 4. The reasons are well explained in the chart on page 57.
• • Britain invested more in its colonies because it wanted the military and
economic advantage this would bring.
• • Farms flourished in the warmer climate of New England.
• • The economy of the Thirteen Colonies was more diversified than that of
the French colonies, which depended heavily on the fur trade.
• • The Thirteen Colonies encouraged people of different faiths and even
people from different countries to settle there.
• • At first, the Thirteen Colonies were allowed to trade with other
countries. However, as the theory of mercantilism became more popular,
this advantage was to some extent lost
• 5. a. Only Roman Catholics could move to the French colonies while
people from a variety of faiths moved to New England.
• B. From a practical standpoint, the British practice resulted in many more
people immigrating. This, of course, meant that the colonies grew much
faster and became more powerful. Different faiths also created a richness
in the Thirteen Colonies. Of course, different faiths can also come into
conflict, and the French idea made life simpler from this perspective.
The British Colonies in Atlantic Canada
• Long before Europeans were settling in North America, a few boats were
probably coming over in the summer to fish. They were most likely fishing
off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, a shallow area of sea where one of
the world’s richest supply of codfish existed.
• When John Cabot, an explorer working for England, officially “discovered”
the Grand Banks in 1497, things really took off, and from then on the
waters of Newfoundland supplied England with one of its staple foods.
• There were so many codfish, everyone assumed they’d be there forever;
so no one took any precautions to ensure that the Grand Banks weren’t
over-fished. It took about 500 years, but by the 1990s, the cod were
• You can imagine what happened to the economy of the province. Whole
communities disappeared. People moved wherever they had to go to find
other kinds of work. It was devastating.
• To learn a bit more about this dreadful situation, read the Canada Today
box on page 59 of Voices and Visions.
• What lesson can Canadians—and anyone else, for that matter— learn
from what happened to Newfoundland’s codfish?
read the rest of page 59
(beginning, as always, with the Focus question)
and continue to the end of the Case Study box on page 61.
The Tragedy of the Beothuk
• Speaker #1 So you can see that while Newfoundland was too
northerly to seem very hospitable—and had soil that was too poor
to farm—it became a British colony anyway. The fish in the Grand
Banks, just like the furs in New France, were the reason behind
• Speaker #2-But that was horrible about the First Nations people in
Newfoundland! The English settlers just hunted them down like
animals. Even the children!
• Speaker #1- You’re right. The treatment of the Beothuk people of
Newfoundland is one of the great stains on our history. There are
many dreadful examples of ill treatment of Canada’s First Peoples,
but one of the worst is what happened to the Beothuk.
• What caused the conflict between the Beothuk and the British
• Would things have been different if the English colonists had been
interested in trading furs rather than in fishing? Explain your
• The British fishing villages cut off the Beothuk’s
access to the sea—access they needed for the
food they lived on. The peaceful Beothuk even
went hungry in their attempts to avoid a fight,
but when the Europeans left for the winter, they
sometimes raided their supplies. This made the
British fishers want to retaliate.
• Almost certainly things would have been different
because the fur traders would have needed the
Beothuk to get the furs they wanted. As it was,
the British fishers just saw them as a nuisance
• As noted previously, the destruction of the Beothuk was one of the
great tragedies of Canadian history. An entire people with its own
language, culture, and traditions was entirely wiped out—and much
of that was done deliberately.
• The British would sometimes go out hunting human beings just as
people hunt deer today—except that there were no restrictions on
the numbers or the season. But, as your textbook mentions, it
wasn’t only deliberate killing that destroyed the Beothuk. When
Europeans arrived in North America, they brought with them
diseases that the First Peoples of the New World had never known.
While diseases like smallpox and tuberculosis certainly killed
Europeans, those diseases had been around so long that most
people had some immunity.
• First Peoples, though, had no immunity, and entire communities
were wiped out in almost no time at all. Disease, in fact, killed far
more First Nations people than warfare with Europeans When
Shanawdithit died in 1829, her culture died with her. But before she
died, she drew some pictures in an attempt to describe the lives of
• On page 61 of Voices and Visions you can see Shanawdithit’s
sketches (Figure 3.6). These sketches are excellent primary
source references. Together we will read this section
• list things these sketches tell you about the lives of the
• The Beothuk
• • hunted seals with harpoons
• • hunted deer with spears
• • dried venison (deer meat) for the winter in specially built
store houses with peaked roofs (probably to shed snow)
• • danced as part of their culture—and seemed to have made
special costumes for the purpose
• • made and used containers for drinking, carrying water, and
probably other purposes
• Now answer the questions in the section titled respond
• 1. The main cause of the conflict between the Beothuk and
the British fishers was that the fishers cut off the Beothuk’s
access to the sea, which they relied on for food
• 2. If British colonists in Newfoundland were more intrested in
the fur trade, they might have formed a trading alliance with
Events in Europe affect the colonies/
The creation of Halifax
• Together we will read pages 61-62
• Now on the map of Atlantic Canada locate the
following places: Cape Breton, Nova
Scotia(Acadia), and Halifax
• Now using your map determine why Halifax’s
location was so important
• It is closer to Europe than ports in the United
States: it was a convenient base for naval forces
to patrol and control the Gulf of St. Lawrence
• Now take a look at Figure 3.7 and answer the
Active Citizenship in Halifax
• Read page 62 when finished answer the following
• How did this British colony compare to the
• This colony, now known as Nova Scotia, was
originally created by the French. Britain wanted
to show it’s sovereignty , so it took a direct and
active interests in this colony. Nova Scotia was
the first British colony in North America with an
The Mi’kmaq Perspective/ Voices
• With a partner read this section and analyze
the Mi’kmaq declaration of war, and answer
the following questions
• What does the declaration of war reveal about
Mi’kmaq society and culture?
• Do you think the Mi’kmaq were justified in
issuing the declaration? Why or Why not?
Think It Through
• Do the three questions in the section titled
Think it Through. For question number 2
review pages 39-40
• 1. the establishment of the elected assembly
in Halifax increased colonists’ responsibilities
by giving them the vote and more active voice
in colony’s government.
The Company by the Bay
• A Monopoly on the Fur Trade
• Do you or any other members of your family shop at The
Bay? If so, are you aware that it’s Canada’s oldest
company? In fact, The Bay is one of the oldest companies in
the world—and it began as a fur-trading business called the
Hudson’s Bay Company.
• Do you remember how the king of France gave a monopoly
on the fur trade in New France to a company who agreed,
in return, to develop the colony? The French weren’t the
only people giving out such monopolies at that time. The
Hudson’s Bay Company was given a monopoly on the fur
trade in northern North America by the king of England.
• To learn a bit more about the monopoly given to the Hudson’s Bay
Company—and about The Bay today—read the Canada Today box on
page 66 of Voices and Visions. Then answer the following questions.
• 1. A monopoly, as you’ll recall, is the right given to only one company
to trade or sell a product in an area. To get an idea of just what the
effect this has on business, answer the following questions.
• a. Imagine that there was only one company in your community that
sold pizza. What would probably happen to the price of pizzas in your
community? Give reasons for your answer.
• b. What would happen to prices if one or more other pizza places
opened up? Again, give your reasons.
• c. What would happen if one pizza company began to charge more
than all the other companies? Remember to give your reasons.
• d. What would happen if all the pizza companies decided to match
that one company with the high prices? As always, give your reasons
• a. The company would be able
to choose the prices it charged
because everyone wanting a
pizza would have to buy that
company’s products. The
prices would almost certainly
• b. Now the companies would
have to compete to get
people’s business. Prices
would come down as they
tried to attract customers.
• c. That company would soon start
selling fewer pizzas than the
others. Unless its pizzas were
much better or much bigger—or
unless there were some other
advantages like a convenient
location—it would probably soon
go out of business.
• d. Again there would be no
competition, but if the prices
were too high all the pizzerias
would probably lose business.
Customers would start to eat
more of other things that were
• You can see from thinking
about the past questions that
monopolies aren’t good for
competition or consumers.
• Competing for customers is
what keeps prices down.
Merchants, however, usually
like the idea of a monopoly.
After all, they can raise prices
as high as they want—at least
till consumers simply choose
to do without the product.
• And when consumers really
want something, they’re
usually willing to pay a lot.
That was certainly true a few
hundred years ago when hats
made from beaver fur were
the fashion trend in Europe.
The king of France granted a
monopoly on the fur trade to ensure
that settlers would be brought to
New France. But the British had no
thoughts of settling around Hudson
Bay. It was too far north for farming
and the ground was almost solid
Suggest a reason why the Hudson’s
Bay Company was granted a
The British government wanted the
company to be very successful so
that Britain would remain a player in
the fur trade. A monopoly helped
ensure that the company would be
Now read pages 64 and 65 in Voices
and Visions up to “Conflict on the
Bay.” Begin, as always, with the Focus
The Creation of the Hudson’s Bay
• Do you remember Pierre Radisson and the Sieur des Groseilliers from
Section 1? They were probably the greatest of all the coureurs de bois of
New France. But they were more than just good outdoorsmen; they had
real business sense too. When they heard about the vast “inland sea”
from the First Nations people they lived and travelled with, they got an
idea to make a fortune in the fur trade.
• Explain the idea that Radisson and des Groseilliers came up with. In your
explanation, identify the advantages their plan would have over the way
the French had been trading furs up till then. The map on page 65 of
Voices and Visions (Figure 3.9) should help make this clear
• The idea was to get away from using canoe routes into the interior of
North America for trade with First Nations. Instead, traders could just sail
in ocean-going ships from England right into the heart of the continent.
This was a much easier, faster, safer, and economical system.
Mike: I can’t believe that the French
government didn’t go for their plan.
Talk about a mistake!
Ms. Babiuk: But remember that
Radisson and des Groseilliers hadn’t
actually seen Hudson Bay. Outfitting
sea-going ships for an expedition that
might lead nowhere would have
been an expensive gamble.
Winston: I suppose that the British
had more faith that the bay was
really there because they’d
discovered it—back when Henry
Hudson found it. They wouldn’t have
seen it as such a gamble.
Mike: Either way, Radisson and des
Groseilliers were definitely more
interested in making money than in
loyalty to France.
Ms. Babiuk: As you’ve heard, they
were good businessmen. And
remember, coureurs de bois in the
woods of North America might not
have felt a lot of loyalty to France so
faraway across the Atlantic. All
Radisson and des Groseilliers wanted
was money to pay for their
expedition into Hudson Bay.
When that first ship sailed out of
Hudson Bay and back to England full
of the thickest beaver pelts anyone in
Europe had ever seen, the British
king, Charles II, was quick to grant a
monopoly to a group of merchants.
The Hudson’s Bay Company was
formed in 1670. Its monopoly was to
trade furs in all the lands drained by
rivers that flowed into Hudson Bay.
This area was called Rupert’s Land.
Conflict on the Bay
Together we will read this section
Who was left out of this conflict?
The first nations
What do you think the First Nations perspective might have been?
By 1713, the British and the French were set to fight it out for the fur trade
in what is today Canada. You’ve thought a lot in this course about the
negative effects of European activities in North America, but can you see
any positive economic effects in all this for at least some First Nations
people? Write out your answer
By now you know how a monopoly works. People with a monopoly can
more or less set prices for what they sell. If no Europeans had been
competing in the trade with the First Nations.
anyone trading could have demanded high prices for those furs.
But when the British and the French were competing with each other for
the fur trade, they both tried hard to attract First Nations business. This
meant offering more goods and better prices.
In time, it also meant that both the French and the British would work at
going to the First Nations rather than expecting the First Nations to come
Treaty of Utrecht—1713
• You encountered the
treaty of Utrecht once
before referring to pages
61 and 66 of Voices and
Visions—as well as
information you already
know—list the territories
in North America that
both Britain and France
retained after this
the Thirteen Colonies
• Nova Scotia (had
been Acadia) except
for Île Royale
• Hudson Bay lands
• Louisbourg (on Île
• the settlements in
the St. Lawrence
(including Québec and
• the vast area west of
the Thirteen Colonies
and south of British
lands around Hudson
The British Continue to Explore
• Explorers from the Bay
• The merchants in charge of the Hudson’s Bay Company weren’t the
least bit interested in exploration. The idea of the “Gentlemen
Adventurers Trading into Hudson’s Bay” was that if they built
trading posts on Hudson Bay, First Nations people would come to
them to trade. All that the Hudson’s Bay people would have to do
was sit and wait for them.
• In the first century of its existence, the Hudson’s Bay Company
produced only three important explorers. But what they
accomplished—with a great deal of help from First Nations
• These three explorers were
• • Henry Kelsey • Anthony Henday • Samuel Hearne
Into the Interior
• After reading this section answer the following question
• How might the first nations people he met have viewed
• They viewed him with curiosity; as potential friend because
he was accompanied by Cree guides; and with interest
because he showed them guns, blankets, pots, and other
• Read the caption for Figure 3-11 and answer the questions
in the caption
• First Nations people would be more willing to work with
the British fur traders because of the good relations Kelsey
• It’s hard for us to realize today just how certain most Europeans
were two and three hundred years ago that their culture and their
ways were superior to everyone else’s. This attitude hindered many
explorers who felt it was “beneath them” to adopt the ways of the
people who lived in the area. To do this was in the eyes of most
Europeans to let your standards slide. It was considered a bad thing.
• Speaker #1 But that’s just nuts. The people who lived there had
been there for thousands of years. They’d know what to eat and
how to get it. They’d know what to wear and how to find their way
around. They’d know how to survive.
• Speaker #2 Exactly. The coureurs de bois of New France figured that
one out, as did Kelsey, Henday, and Hearne. That’s the main reason
they were so successful. Others weren’t so smart.
West Into Alberta/ To the Northern
• Together we will read these two sections
• Why did Henday and Hearne undertake their expedition?
• Henday hoped to forge new trade relationships with first nations farther
• Hearne hoped to find gold and copper
• Was their expeditions successful?
• Neither man accomplished the goal he set out with, Hearne did become
the first European to reach the shores of the Arctic ocean, and he learned
a great deal from the Dene about how to live off the land
• Look at figure 3-12, what challenges would Henday and Hearne face?
• Great distances, food shortages, harsh weather, wild animals
• What does the map tell you about the extent of British exploration?
• British ventured far to the north and west.
Voices pg 69
• Read Samuel Hearne’s journal
• What do we learn from a primary-source
document such as this?
• We learn historical facts about people, places,
• But we also learn about a person’s feelings,
thoughts, and experiences, which may help
make history “real”
• Because he kept such extensive accounts of his travels,
a great deal is known about Samuel Hearne’s
explorations into Canada’s north— where he
encountered Inuit people.
• One of the things his journal makes clear is the huge
contribution made to his journey by his Dene guide,
• In fact, Matonabbee was far more than just a guide. A
skilled trader, diplomat, and linguist, Matonabbee was
in some ways the real leader of the expedition. He also
became a close personal friend of Hearne’s.
• Again together we will read the biography on
• What evidence can you find that supports the
following statement: “ Matonabbee”s leadership
made Samuel Hearne’s expedition a success”
• He knew the route to the arctic, spoke at least
three languages, and showed Hearne how to
travel light and live off the land
• Complete the following sentence “The travels of
Matonabbee should be called the incredible
The Search for The Northwest Passage
Have you ever heard of the “Northwest
Passage”? Do you know what the expression
refers to? Remember that Columbus and other
early explorers from Europe came to the
Americas hoping to find a new path to Asia.
When they bumped into land, many still
hoped to find a way around or through it so
that they could continue on to Asia and its
As it became more and more apparent that
North and South America made up a pretty big
land mass, some people began to wonder if
there was a way around it to the north—over
the top, as it were.
And for hundreds of years after that idea took
root in people’s minds, explorers searched for
a “Northwest Passage” in Canada’s northern
They hoped to find not just a way through, but
a way through that was easy and safe enough
to use as a regular route for ships.
• Read the case study
• Speculate on the problems
faced by people trapped on
ships in the ice?
• They lacked food, it was
bitterly cold, they faced
boredom, their wooden ships
could be crushed by ice.
• Now lets look at figure 3-14
and answer the question in
• Amundsen would be able to
sail through the Arctic ocean
for only a brief time in
summer, which is why the
journey took so long
Exploring the Pacific Coast
• Have you thought about the fact that so far all
the European exploration and settling of North
America has been coming from the east and
• Of course, that’s natural because Europe is across
the Atlantic Ocean from the Americas. But as
explorers travelled all over the globe, eventually
some began arriving on the west coast of North
America. These explorers also tried to find the
Read about the British explorers James
Cook and George Vancouver on pages
71 and 72 (read up to the Think It
Through box on page 72).
As you read, think
about the similarities
between the early
contact of First
Europeans on the
Pacific and Atlantic
coasts of Canada.
Then put your ideas
into a comparison
chart like the one
shown here. It’s been
started for you
Early Contacts on the
Atlantic and Pacific Coasts
• Contact came much later on
the Pacific coast.
• • The French made contact on the Atlantic coast first, while
the British did so on the Pacific.
• • The pelts on the Atlantic coast in most demand were
beavers while on the Pacific coast they were sea otters.
• • On both sides of the continent, contact was made by
European explorers looking for a shorter route to Asia.
• • On both coasts, the Europeans were first welcomed by
theFirst Nations they encountered.
• On both coasts the First Nations people they encountered
were interested in trade.
The British: Forging the Foundations of
read page 72
• make a list of the effects the British had on what
is now Canada.
• Your list should include: English speaking
colonies, The Hudson Bay Company, the founding
of Halifax, the naming of Nova Scotia, mapping
the coast of what is now British Columbia, the
creation of British settlements on what is now
Newfoundland, and the extinction of the Beothuk