Creation of Saskatchewan Fur Marketing Services


In attempt to regulate fur trading and trapping enterprises, the CCF government created the Saskatchewan Fur Marketing Services, a crown corporation commission service for trappers. The SFMS regulated prices and quotas on specific species to encourage conservation. Beaver and muskrat pelts had to be sold through this service, though other types of pelts could still be sold to private enterprises. The SFMS also took 10% of the revenue from the sale of pelts. The Department assured that the positions of First Nations and Métis trappers would be taken into consideration regarding the new regulations. Despite these assurances, there was organized opposition to this service, as evidenced by the Lac La Ronge petition of 1949, where 137 members of the area demanded that their furs not be sold by socialist bodies, such as the Marketing service.

Hunters and trappers (who were mostly Aboriginal) had fewer options for fur buyers and prices. The SFMS was unpopular among Aboriginal trappers and was abandoned by 1956. The reasons for this closure are several. One of the main reasons for the abandonment of the Fur Marketing Service was the mandatory nature of the program throughout its early years.

As per Robert Dalby, "...the trappers had to sell the beaver and muskrats (which is the principal crop) to the Fur Marketing Service in Regina. And they all resented it, without fail, you know… . And I think the intent was to give them a better price but for some reason it just didn't work properly.” (Saskatchewan Archives Board. Interview of Robert Dalbey by Murray Dobbin, for the oral history project “Biographies of Two Métis Society Founders.” Tape R-A1l48)

Another issue with the program was how it was imposed upon the population of Northern Saskatchewan. According to the book CCF Colonialism in Northern Saskatchewan: Battling Parish Priests, Bootleggers, and Fur Sharks there was no input from the people of Northern Saskatchewan, in the design and implementation of the Fur Marketing Service. Instead, people from the Southern half of the province were employed to design this program, among them being Joseph Lee Phelps, minister of Natural Resources and Industrial Development from 1944 to 1948.

‘Department of Natural Resources,’ Saskatchewan Commonwealth, 4 February 1948.

Barron, F. L. Walking in Indian Moccasins the Native Policies of Tommy Douglas and the CCF. Vancouver: UBC Press, 1997.144-145.