By the mid-1750's, the French had established fur trading routes in the western interior of North America which compromised British trade based along Hudson Bay.
The Hudson's Bay Company conducted trade by having the Indians come to them, which passed on the costs of transportation to their native trading partners. The French sought out the Indians, eliminating the considerable work involved in hauling pelts to a remote Hudson Bay post. Understandably, they quickly cut into the Hudson Bay's trade.
The Hudson's Bay Company responded to France's movement into the interior with its own foray west. Englishman Anthony Henday, was a labourer who volunteered to travel inland and trade with the Indians at their settlements. He left in June, 1754, paddling down the Hayes River, then walking with a group of natives to the site of Red Deer, Alberta. He was the first Englishman to meet with the Blackfoot and one of the first to witness the extraordinary spectacle of buffalo herds moving across the prairie like an earthquake.
He wintered with the Blackfoot and admired their hunting skills.
"I went with the young men a Buffalo hunting," Henday wrote, "all armed with Bows & Arrows: Killed seven, fine sport... So expert are the Natives, that they will take the arrows out of them when they are foaming and raging with pain, & tearing the ground up with their feet & horns until they fall down."
The Blackfoot embraced Henday as a guest, but not as a trading partner. "We have no hopes of getting them to the Fort," he wrote. "as what cloth & c. they had were French, and, by their behaviour I perceived they were strongly attached to the French interest."
Henday tried to tempt a chief with deals that could be made at Hudson Bay.