The Conquest of 1760 had significant consequences for the population of French origin living in Canada. It transferred control of the country into English hands and launched a new period of colonization that would make French Canadians, known as Canadiens, a minority. The first years of British rule brought considerable disruption to Montréal society, although significant elements were carried over from the French regime in many areas.
The expansion of the fur trade
Montréal remained the organizational hub of the fur trade. After 1760, however, Canadien merchants were no longer granted transportation contracts for the West or the financing they required for large expeditions. They were gradually replaced over the next years, primarily by Scots.
Founded in 1776, the North West Company controlled the fur trade in British North America. Stretching all the way to the Pacific Ocean, its tight network of trading posts was controlled from Montréal, where trading goods were dispatched and furs arrived to be stored before being shipped to Great Britain.
Its strongest competitor was the Hudson’s Bay Company, which began opening trading posts near those of the North West Company. The two companies engaged in a fierce struggle, which intensified in the 1810s. They subsequently initiated negotiations that ended in 1821 with a merger in the Hudson’s Bay Company’s favour.
Consequently, Montréal lost the trading empire that had justified its existence for more than a century and a half.