The first trade in Aradie was not the fur trade -- it was the fish trade. Fishermen came to Everique in the wake of the first explorers, such as Stephen Walsch of the Kennard Reach and Nicolas Brunet of Saronne. The bounty of the fishing banks off the coast of Everique were so great that control of it led directly to the Fisher Wars of the 15th Century. The countries of Japethe reached an uneasy peace with the Treaty of Marennes, but every outbreak of war in Japethe results in conflict between the fisher navies off the coast of Everique.
Smoked and salted fish are an important source of protein during the lean winter months in Japethe. The King of Saronne sponsored Jaquet d'Artais' efforts to found a colony in Aradie for the purpose of exploiting the fish trade. The Crown wished to have a continuous supply of fish and to train a cadre of sailors for the fishing marine that could be impressed into service in times of war.
Today, the fish trade is enormous and an important part of the economy of Aradie. Thousands of tons of fish are harvested every year. To preserve the fish for transport, the fishermen land on shores of the islands that border the Gulf of the Grande Vire to smoke or salt their catch. Small villages have cropped up at the best harbors where the fishermen, who were almost entirely male, married women from the Maniquois tribe. Their descendants, the métis, still live on the islands in a culture that blends Saronnan and Maniquois traditions. They consider themselves separate from Aradie since they predate the colony, but they readily align with it when the Morantine from Varre threaten.
The fur trade is the foundation of wealth in Aradie. Furs worth hundreds of thousands of destoles pass through Sherbourg every summer. The trade includes a wide variety of furs, such as fox, deer, ermine, and skunk, but the king of all fur is the beaver. Beaver hides are used to make felt hats, which are very fashionable in Japethe and renowned for their softness and warmth.
The fur trade began shortly after the discovery of Everique. The Saronnans established trading posts with the natives, who brought the furs to the banks of the Grand Vire to trade for Japethan goods such as knives, pots, nails, needles, brandy, and firearms. After the establishment of Aradie and the town of Sherbourg, the trading posts have moved further west to encourage trade with the more distant tribes. This has proven necessary as the beaver has become increasingly rare in the eastern part of the colony, forcing trappers to go further into the wilderness to find their hides.
In addition to the natives, some of the colonists have heard the siren call of wealth, independence, and adventure that is the fur trade. Every winter when the furs are the thickest, coureurs des bois, as they are called, head off into the forests and lakes to search for beaver. In the spring, the exchange their hides at the trading posts for receipts that are redeemable in Sherbourg. The voyageurs then transport the furs from the trading posts back to Sherbourg, using large canoes to travel the many lakes and rivers of northern Everique.
The government has long sought to limit the number of furs brought into Sherbourg to keep from flooding the market and suppressing the price. While the trappers are outside of the reach of the governor general, the trading companies in town are not, and they are limited in how many furs they can buy per year. This does suppress the fur supply, but it also creates an incentive to smuggle furs, supporting a thriving criminal class in Sherbourg.« Return to the Almanac Index