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Across the Line: Cross-Border Effects of Trapline Registration in Northern British Columbia and the Yukon

Thu, March 30, 1:30 to 3:00pm, The Drake Hotel, Venetian


In 1925, British Columbia’s (BC’s) government issued regulations requiring the registration of traplines within the province. North of the BC-Yukon Territory border, the territorial government sought temporal rather than spatial means to conserve furbearers by enforcing closed seasons on certain animals. The situation changed in 1950 as the Yukon government – fearful that the territory’s Indigenous peoples were losing access to furbearers due to Euro-Canadian encroachment – established its own registered trapline system. Systems of trapline registration in northwestern Canada soon influenced trapping activities beyond their respective jurisdictions. Trapline registration in northern BC affected Indigenous trappers who had harvested furs in the previously marginally-regulated borderland with the Yukon. With the implementation of trapline registration in the Yukon, trappers along this same borderland experienced intensified regulation of trapping in the region. Trapline registration in the Yukon also affected trapping in the Northwest Territories (NWT)-Yukon borderland. Trappers living in the NWT while trapping in the Yukon – such as the Indigenous peoples of Fort Liard – were subject to the Yukon’s regulations.

Since the implementation of regulations concerning the conservation of furbearers often had repercussions for individuals living beyond the boundaries of these respective jurisdictions, this paper examines the ways in which both the BC and Yukon governments affected the trapping activities of residents in neighbouring jurisdictions. The BC-Yukon border is an arbitrary boundary following the sixtieth parallel North, while the Yukon-NWT border is a “natural” boundary, following the height of land between watersheds. In spite of these differences, both boundaries cut across the cultural geographies of the Indigenous peoples who inhabited these borderlands. While previous studies have typically been confined within Euro-Canadian political boundaries, this paper considers how these different types of boundaries influenced the extent to which trapline registration affected trappers in adjacent regions.