History of the Athabasca oil sands region 1890 to 1960's Vol II: Oral history

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  • During the last two centuries, the Athabasca Oil Sands region has been an eldorado for resource development. With the economy of the fur trade predominating from 1778 until the 1950's, the major forces shaping the development, i.e., private enterprise, church missions, and government enterprise, have come from outside the region. Prior to 1890, society in the region was conditioned by, fur trade economy and religious proselytism. The fur trade, dominated by the Hudson's Bay Company, sought economic benefits which depended on stable social conditions. To a certain extent,social stability was reinforced by the presence of missionaries. Their role was one of introducing Christian religious practices and attendant material comforts of education and health care to the original inhabitants. Thus these two external influences, company and Church, complemented one another. Subsequently, the missionaries provided to the original inhabitants also paternal protection from intrusion of government and industry in their expansion into the region. Oral history interviews indicate that this paternal activity lessened as churches began to focus upon the needs of newcomers.

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