For the rest of Canada, the beaver was the driving force that led to so much change and, eventually, the formation of Canada. But on the west coast, it was a different furry beast — the sea otter.
The search for sea otter, which was launched as soon as James Cooks' crews sold a few sea otters pelts in China for "princely sums" changed the west coast forever. Within a few years, traders were in Nootka and Clayoquot Sounds, and elsewhere along the coast, trading the native people for furs. It was a lively trade and there's a lot of stories to tell, but within about 50 years, the trade was all but over. The main source of the frenzy - the sea otter - was gone.
But...the sea otters are now back in Clayoquot Sound. For some people, that's great news. For others, not so much. (Complicated stuff and something for a longer, well-considered post.) For now, here is a great piece from Rod Palm, explaining recent events that saw the sea otters once again setting up in its traditional territory.