This study examines the establishment of the fur trade at Lake Athabasca, with Fort Chipewyan as its focus. It covers the period from the entry of Peter Pond in 1778, to 1835. By then, the fur trade had recovered from the damaging effects of the competition between the North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company that preceded their amalgamation in 1821. The study portrays the life of a fort as it was related to the fur trade of a district. Fort Chipewyan, headquarters of both the North West Company's and Hudson's Bay Company's Athabasca enterprises, offers an opportunity to examine the fur trade under the differing conditions prior to and after 1821. Although documents are lacking for the North West period, there are sufficient records to indicate the conditions of the trade. Fort Chipewyan, the first European settlement in Alberta, was ideally situated for the fur trade, located as it is at the hub of a drainage system. The fort was reached from the south by the Athabasca River and the streams running to the north and to the west became highways for expansion of the trade. Lake Athabasca stretches to the east. As a base for extending the trade, Fort Chipewyan ranked second, surpassed only by Fort William on Lake Superior. It was not only the fur trade that benefited from the establishment of Fort Chipewyan, however, because as the "Grand Magazine of the North" it became the base of operations for land explorers. Alexander Mackenzie, John Franklin, George Back, and John Richardson were a few of the men who gained fame after passing through its gates.