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Pros and cons of fur trade in area to be debated at OMAH talk

Free July 14 event will feature two speakers taking opposing views of Canada’s trade in animal skins

On Wednesday, July 14, at 7 p.m. via Zoom, the Orillia Museum of Art and History (OMAH) History Speaker Series will take a distinctive twist where art meets history.

Let the Fur Fly! Past and Contemporary Histories of Fur, Fashion and Friction will feature two speakers taking opposing views of Canada’s trade in animal skins. It is sure to be a lively discussion.

For thousands of years the Huron-Wendat and their predecessors trapped fish at the Narrows, the thin channel separating Lake Couchiching and Lake Simcoe.   

Then came the fur trade.

Beavers and other animals were trapped to meet the demands for European fur fashion trends. This enterprise led to the Atherley Narrows becoming a key site for cultural and capital exchange, and the eventual formation of Orillia as a European-dominated settlement. The fur trade was to become the first industry in Orillia and Indigenous people were important partners in this economy.

Jill Price, an interdisciplinary artist, curator, educator and scholar, will examine the fur trade from an imagined animal perspective. Jill is currently exhibiting at OMAH. Unfurled: Unsettling the Archive from a More-Than-Human Perspective draws out narratives based on animals hunted, trapped and exchanged as part of the trade networks of the North American fur trade.

John Savage will address the fur trade from the viewpoint of his ancestors. John is a descendant of Orillia's first settler and renowned fur traders, Antoine Gaudaur. As an amateur historian, he worked with OMAH as a co-curator on the exhibit Mnjikaning: Mapping the Life of the Gaudaurs.

How did the fashion industry shape our economy and country? How did the fur trade affect the environment of the Indigenous people, the European settlers, and especially the animals themselves? Were there any benefits to the fur trade?

Join us for a spirited debate on fur trade, which had a huge impact on our local area and our entire country.

To register and receive a link for the talk, click here or call Monica at 705-326-2159 or email

The talk is free. Donations to OMAH are appreciated.