|This website uses primary
sources to tell the story of the fur trade
in Canada. A primary source is an original
record of people, places and experiences.
It is created very close to the time of
the actual event and may even be an eye-witness
account. Letters, diaries and photographs
are examples of primary sources. There is
often only one copy of a primary source.
Primary sources are the building blocks
of history. We create them today just as
people did in the past. Some of our modern
records may become the historical records
of tomorrow. A document does not have to
be old to be considered a primary source.
| Unlike primary sources,
secondary sources are usually accounts of
a person, place or experience made after
the occurrence or time period. Rather than
record personal observations they explain,
interpret, or analyze the records of an
event. Although writers may try to be fair
or objective, they cannot help but reflect
their personal biases and experiences. Writers
may also project the bias and attitudes
of the time period within which they are
|Journals, diaries, and other
documents are published because someone
believes that other people would enjoy or
benefit from reading such material. Or,
they may think that this material should
reach as many people as possible.
While these are both good reasons, when
primary material is reproduced, it may have
been edited to make it shorter or easier
to understand. It is often not known if
the author was involved in the editing process.
If the publication appears long after the
lifetime of the original author, it is obvious
that he or she was not responsible for any
Was something left out? Were words or phrases
misunderstood or misinterpreted? Whenever
possible we tried to find the original primary
source, but this was not always possible.
So, we used the next best thing, published
versions of primary sources.