Currently, I'm mapping data from the Hudson's Bay Company Archives in the nineteenth century, and I am tracing the routes travelled by fur traders. I have gone through the documents, recorded the start and end points of each trip, and the decimal coordinates of each. I created point data on Google Earth, exported the data as .kml files, and imported it all into QGIS. My current map looks like this:

QGIS Screenshot of HBC Data

I would like to have lines drawn between points on the map indicating the travels made by traders. Ideally, there would be a line for each voyage to a specific point, meaning heavily travelled routes are clearly visible to the observer.

  • 1
    using the processing toolbox (gear icon on your screenshot) look for "points to path" (under vector creation)
    – Elio Diaz
    Aug 12, 2020 at 2:23

1 Answer 1


This looks like a great project! Here's two ideas for how to visualize the fur trapper's paths:

  1. Straight lines. You can use the Join by lines (hub lines) in QGIS to connect origins/destinations. You'll need a "Hub" layer and a "Spoke" layer, with connecting points labeled by ID. If you know quantities (number of trips, volume of fur etc.) for each trip, you can input that as a field for each trip and use the value to control the thickness of the line. Look at the Center for Spatial Research's Conflict Urbanism Colombia project as an example.
  2. Using a network. If you have a sense of what paths the trappers may have taken, especially if they overlap, you could create a third layer with a network of paths, then use Shortest path (point to point) to find paths along the network. Look at the QGIS Network Analysis Tutorial for guidance. Each segment of the network could be given a different thickness based on the number of trips that pass through, to create a flow map. Look at the late 19th century flow maps produced by the Ministry of Public Works in France.
  • This is great! I would definitely be using the Straight Lines for ease of interpretation. Is there a tutorial on how to use Join by Lines? I'm sure this is probably a really simple tool, but I'm really new to this program and have absolutely no experience. Thanks so much for your help!
    – Aaron
    Aug 12, 2020 at 0:08
  • Haven't seen a tutorial for this exact use case but have a look at this thread: gis.stackexchange.com/questions/307399/…. Good luck!
    – carstoid
    Aug 15, 2020 at 22:39

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