Montreal in the 1660-1670

In the 1660ies, the frequent visits of Amerindians and traders coming from Quebec city, Trois-Rivieres and even from France, gave the town of Montreal a cosmopolitan air that was not different from European commercial towns, scale aside.

However, Montreal was still little developed, without even a parish church, without street grid and without an official marketplace, so a visitor would find it rather hard to believe that the community was undergoing very rapid change.

In that time, Montrealers were in the habit of carrying on their dealings not in a public marketplace (which did not even exist, as we’ve said), but in private homes. The practice was widespread and small groups of Amerindians were welcomed in these houses, as a number of signed deeds of that era confirm. However, since 1663, a community shed is used to house visiting Amerindians, and we suppose, a few deals are concluded there.

This shed was sold by the town to the Sulpicians, who obtained rental income from this inn. Furs were often part of the exchange, and many construction or transportation contracts were paid in pelts.

In the 1670ies, trading gradually takes more place in the central square of the town, which is named Place du Marche (Marketplace), in 1676.

This site, situated close to the port area, within reach of the unloading point for canoes and small boasts, becomes the site for the annual fur market which draws hundreds of Aborigines from the Great Lakes region to Montreal. Indeed, each summer, a large flotilla of hundreds of canoes, each one paddled by three or more Indians, landed at the point.

Each boat brought 40 or more bales of beaver pelts. This summertime tradition reached its peak in the 1670ies, but the next decade it dwindled in importance, because a wide network of trading posts was established in many areas.

These posts were served by fur traders who went inland (the famous coureurs de bois, as they were called by the locals).

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