Trappers and Traders

Trappers and Traders

Overall Goal


Through a dramatic presentation of the fur trading history, students are immersed in a simulation. Through this guided activity, students will experience the relationship between First Nations trappers and early Europeans.

Grade 6 Curriculum Connections

Social Studies - Heritage and Identity: Communities in Canada, Past and Present

  • assess contributions to Canadian identity made by various groups and by various features of Canadian communities and regions
  • use the social studies inquiry process to investigate different perspectives on the historical and/or contemporary experiences of two or more distinct communities in Canada

Physical and Health Education

  • participate actively and regularly in a wide variety of physical activities, and demonstrate an understanding of factors that encourage lifelong participation in physical activity
  • demonstrate responsibility for their own safety and the safety of others as they participate in physical activities
  • demonstrate the ability to apply health knowledge and living skills to make reasoned decisions and take appropriate actions relating to their personal health and well-being


Program Description

The First Nation trappers and European traders have both made an important contribution and impact to the development of Canada. The European settlers discovered the First Nations people hunting and gathering for subsistence. Most importantly to the Europeans, they were hunting beaver. The beaver pelts were an important commodity for the Europeans as they were used to make top hats for wealthy citizens. Having trapped the beaver to the point of near extinction in Europe, the Europeans started to trade goods with the First Nations in exchange for beaver pelts.

Students learn about the development of this fur trade in Canada. In the simulation, students use their orienteering skills to gather information on First Nations people and how they used their environment to thrive. SOES staff and visiting teachers run a trading post so that students can trade and barter beaver pelts for European trade goods, such as axes, beads and metal pots.

Our debrief focuses on understanding the impact of the fur trade on both the First Nations and European settlers plus what life was like for those who were involved then and the impact still today.

Success Criteria/Learning Goals

  1. Students will explain how life was for the Indigenous peoples before First Contact
  2. Students will demonstrate an understanding of  the early interactions of First Nations/European peoples
  3. Students will model the different perspectives of those involved in the fur trade through the drama of this activity
  4. Students will demonstrate their knowledge of how different cultures value nature
  5. Students will navigate the orienteering portion of the program and work effectively with a small group.

Pre-Trip Activity
The Fur Trade: Our People's Story would make a good introduction and provocation for discussion prior to visiting SOES. It provides a perspective from eyes of a First Nations woman, Metis woman, and a First Nations child. 
Next Step Environmental Action
Use the social studies inquiry process to investigate different perspectives on this period in history and how the telling of the experience might vary, both then and now.
OISE has a resource called the Deepening Knowledge Project which is a curricula database for infusing Indigenous education into your classroom with information, grade specific lesson plans, videos, and links to books and films.

For more suggestions see our page Learning Resources under Aboriginal Education.

Available in spring and fall and winter on request (snow depth dependent).  Map Orienteering or a map walk is a prerequisite.