Posts and Forts of the North American Fur Trade

Historic Fort Edmonton

Historic Fort Edmonton

The conceptualization of a Post and Fort database began in earnest in 1992 with the establishment of a small database that began with the addition of French, North West Company, Hudson Bay Company, XY Company, and Canadian Independent posts and forts that totaled just over 900 sites.

That initial research led to the addition of American fur trade companies and during that research came an invitation to participate in the 9th North American Fur Trade Conference in St. Louis Missouri in 2006. The paper written for that conference discussed combining the disciplines of, History, Cartography, and Information Technology to create a modern Geographical Information System aimed at comprising all fur trade fort and post sites of North America.
Since the presentation in St. Louis, the database has grown substantially both in numbers and structurally and now encompasses posts and forts throughout North America. Each post is classified by the quality of the source information and quality of the spatial coordinates assigned each site. The class system devised was based on location description and the coordinate precision of the site derived from the description. As such, one of the following classes was assigned each site in the database:

Site Classes Assigned to Posts and Forts

Information SourceCoordinate Precision
GPS Receiver
Coordinate Precision
Digital or Hard Copy Map
ArchaeologicalA1A2
DescribedB1B2
Partial DescriptionCXCX
IndefiniteC1C2
Research RequiredRRRR

Since the conference in St. Louis, the database has grown even larger and presently holds 2030 fur trade sites and will be shown in the interactive Fur Trade Geographic Information Map currently under construction. The companies and number of sites for each respectively are shown below:

Total Site Classifications per Company

Company NameA1A2B1B2C1C2CXRRTotal Sites
North West Company5185142891389406
Hudson’s Bay Company711313411611766499
XY Company11671934
Canadian Independent46131831039237
French (Colonial)311163681444294
American Independent847641367262
American Fur Company162627537120
British (Colonial)35145072
Columbia Fur Company44412
King’s Post Company213
Missouri Fur Company146718
Pacific Fur Company211610
Rocky Mountain Fur Company134
Russian13812125
Spanish531018
Union Fur Company1124
Unknown111012