Media Release

For immediate release


[Name of host city] to host exhibit on Canada's epic fur-trade

[City, (province), month XX, 2011][residents of the city of X] will not want to miss the exhibit Profit and Ambition: The Canadian Fur Trade, 1779–1821 that will be presented at [name of the borrowing institution] starting [date].

The exhibit profiles the North West Company, an extraordinary consortium of Montréal entrepreneurs, Scottish explorers, French-Canadian voyageurs, Métis bison hunters, Aboriginal trappers and “country wives.” Together, they created a commercial empire, opened new routes across the continent and laid the groundwork for the Canada we know today.

[Quote from the director or curator of the borrowing institution]. [Suggestion: “ We are very happy to present this epic story of fortune, endurance and adventure on Canada’s path to expansion and development.”

Profit and Ambition traces the North West Company’s rise and fall. It draws a riveting portrait of the fur trade’s cutthroat business practices and its physically demanding way of life. Starting in 1779, the exhibition also traces the fierce rivalry between the Montréal-based consortium, the North West Company, and the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), headquartered in London, England.

The HBC had dominated the Canadian fur trade for over 100 years, conducting business at trading posts on the shores of Hudson Bay, which allowed direct sea access to Europe. To compete, the North West Company forged new trade routes in the south, reaching out to Aboriginal traders on their way to Hudson Bay, and also used ruthless tactics. In just over 15 years, the North West Company gained control of nearly 80 per cent of the Canadian fur trade. But the competition was ruinous to both companies, eventually leading to their amalgamation.

What will be displayed?
Profit and Ambition features about 90 artifacts, replicas, and works of art. Among the many notable items are trade goods — such as muskets, metal tools, jewellery and ornaments — and articles of Aboriginal and European clothing. Many of the objects date from the late 1700s. The exhibition also features original North West Company documents such as voyageur contracts.

Works of art include paintings by Frances Anne Hopkins, an extraordinary English woman who travelled with her husband by voyageur canoe in the mid-1800s, recording iconic scenes of the fur trade.

Most of the artifacts are drawn from the Canadian Museum of Civilization’s own collections, but some come from a variety of other institutions such as the Canadian War Museum, Library and Archives Canada, the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, Parks Canada, and the Musée de la civilisation in Quebec City.

Profit and Ambition: The Canadian Fur Trade, 1779–1821 was seen by more than 100,000 visitors when presented at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, in Gatineau (Quebec) from September 2009 to February 2011.

Profit and Ambition: The Canadian Fur Trade, 1779–1821 will be presented at [name of the borrowing institution] from [date] to [date].


The Museum is Canada’s largest and most popular cultural institution, attracting over 1.2 million visitors each year. The Museum of Civilization’s role is to preserve and promote the heritage of Canada, contributing to the enhancement of Canadian identity. The Museum is also home to the Canadian Postal Museum and the Canadian Children’s Museum. The Canadian Museum of Civilization is the centre for research and public information on the social and human history of the country.

– 30 –

Media Information:






Canada wordmark Created : February 16, 2011