Unit 2 - The History of Forest Use and Management

Lesson 2: Canada's First Forest Use

Canada's First Forest Laws

With the arrival of the first Europeans, changes occurred in the use of Canada's forests. In the early 1500s, the Europeans came for the fish off the coast of Newfoundland.

The fish needed to be dried before the ships could return to Europe. For that reason, docks, warehouses, and drying racks had to be constructed.

This used up a large volume of wood from Newfoundland's coastal forests, which resulted in adoption of regulations to control such usage.

These regulations can be considered Canada's first forest laws.

Cutting trees in Newfoundland, for the fishing expeditions from Europe, prompted the creation and enforcement of Canada's first forest regulations

Canada's First Forest Industry

The fur industry began as European shore workers in Newfoundland began trading with the local Aboriginal peoples for beaver pelts. The fur industry quickly spread up the St. Lawrence River and into the interior of the North American continent.

The fur trade can be considered Canada's first commercial forest industry. It remained the dominant economic activity in Canada's forest for the next 200 years. Although some species of wildlife were over-harvested, their populations rebounded because no lasting damage was done to the forest habitat.