Interesting facts about animal skins
Although the French and the British did not find gold when they discovered Canada, animal skin was their interest in exploiting this harsh territory so far away from home. Initially, the main attraction was the beaver population which kept Europeans warm and stylish. Fur hats were the European fashion of the day and beaver fur was an excellent raw material as the fur is tight, yet supple and holds it’s shape far better other types of fur. Other mammals became victims of European fashion such as the otter, the lynx, hound dog, the fox, the wolf and the famous mink.
Like the silk of the orient, fur in the 17th and 18th centuries was a lucrative operation. In 1665, the King’s lieutenant general established a price list to control inflation and the abusive exploitation of the natives. For example, 1 beaver skin was traded for 2 axes or swords, 2 pounds of powder, 4 ounces of lead and 8 knives. A native selling 6 beaver skins obtained in exchange 1 blanket, 1 corn barrel and 1 shot gun.*
Most animals hunted or braided for their skins are mammals as their skins are covered with fur. Once shaved off the skin becomes leather. Neanderthal man put leather to good use in clothing without however sewing anything. Sewing came only with the Homo Sapiens ( our species to this day) and the perfection of tools.
For colder climates fur was left on the skin to increase the insulation factor. The same principle is used in today’s modern lightweight insulating materials as the objective is to provide a layer of still air close to the body.
Despite the benefits brought about by animal skin/fur for the clothing industry, none provide absorbency features that are effective in mild incontinence or underwear usage.
Le Québec Héritage et Projets Edition HWR, Jean François Cardin