By the end of the 19th century, whalers had devastated the bow-head whale population and the whaling industry was in decline. With fewer whaling ships travelling into the Canadian Arctic, Inuit lost access to many of the trade goods they had become used to receiving from the whaling ships. About the same time, the Hudson Bay Company established a trading post at Cape Wolstenholme, Quebec. This was its first permanent Arctic post. Fox fur had become a fashional garment in Europe and consequently there was an increased fox furs led to a rapid and widespread establishment of trading posts through the Arctic. While there would be many other large fur trade conglomerates and independent traders, the Hudson Bay Company would eventually control a monopoly on the market.
Fur trapping offered an alternative source of income that was lost with the decline of the whaling industry. Additionally, many groups that had never had access to whaling grounds could also participate in the fur industry.
Like whaling, fur trading had an impact on Inuit hunting and travelling cycles. Many Inuit traditionally followed a seasonal cycle that saw them harvest certain resources in particular seasons. Trapping required a very different approach to harvesting.
Trappers trapped along established trap lines, a series of traps on a route that they would then travel along and harvest the pelts. The trap lines could be quite long, sometimes stretching over a hundred or more kilometers. For Inuit travelling by dog sled, it might take up to a week for a single trapper to visit his entire trap line. The trap lines had to be visited frequently which meant the trapper did not have a lot of extra time to go hunting to feed his family. Many Inuit became reliant on the stores housed in the Trading posts.
The trapping industry further entrenched Inuit into the cash economy. Trappers needed to buy supplies and in poor trapping years took credit against their next year’s catch. In the 1940s the fox fur industry collapsed. Trapping, similar to whaling had become and uneconomical activity.