[Continuing a series of short excerpts from The Story of Canada, the recently republished history of Canada for kids and families that makes such a good Christmas gift.]
Chapter 2: Strangers on the Coast
"A Beothuk family in Newfoundland would be angry when intruders took over their stretch of coastline. A crew of fishermen would be furious when gear they had left behind in the fall disappeared during the winter. Yet sometimes natives and newcomers helped each other. The fishermen had iron knives that cut much better than stone, cooking pots made of hard, shiny copper, and warm blankets of bright woollen cloth. The native people wanted all these things and they had something valuable to offer in return: the cloaks they wore, made from fine, glossy animal skins.
"Slowly, cautiously, the native people and the Europeans began to trade. Beaver pelts were the ones fishermen wanted most. 'The beaver does everything perfectly,' said one Montagnais trader when he saw how much the fishermen would give for beaver skins. ' It makes kettles, hatchets, swords, knives, and bread. It makes everything.' Gradually those furs drew adventurers, traders, and explorers to Canada, leading them far inland from the New Found Land of the fishermen and the whalers."