THE FUR TRADER (Alaska Historic Information)

Sea otter were plentiful near the Island of De la Marguerite, now Queen Charlotte Island, and here came Perez, in 1774, Hecta, in 1775, Martinez, in 1778, and many others French, Dutch, Bostonians, Portuguese and English to hunt and trade. Barclay, to whom we are much indebted for our western possessions, had his wife with him the first white woman to visit this Coast.

The Spanish, between 1774 and 1790, made many marks of ownership between Mexico and Cooks Inlet. The English also became active. In 1776 John Stringer named Queen Charlotte Sound. The next year Dixon traded at and named Dixon Entrance. John Mears brought over some Chinese with the assistance of whom he built the first boat at Nootka and the first English fort. Although dishonest and dishonorable as a pirate, he made the best claim on the Coast for England.

The trading scheme in those days was to make cheap trinkets at home, trade them to the Coast Indians for furs, and the furs to Chinese for teas, and sell the teas at home or in Europe at enormous profits. Many of these crude sailing vessels circumnavigated the globe.

The beautiful bays, narrow straits, inland seas, bold bluffs, islands, rivers and snow-covered peaks bear the names of these fur hunters. As we passed in and out among these narrow passages and numerous islands I could not conceive how they managed such crude sailing vessels in the strong tides, wind-locked waters, fogs, storms and hidden rocks. With inferior nautical instruments and no charts. I would get lost if I was on foot here on a clear day. Many times along the inside passage the only way that I could see out was straight up.

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