The Hudson`s Bay Company

The Hudson’s Bay Company
By Lauren Coutts
What is the Hudson’s Bay Company?
The Hudson’s Bay
Company is the oldest
commercial company in
North America and one of
the oldest in the world
The Hudson’s Bay
Company started off
during the fur trade in
1670 and is still a
successful company today
around the world
The fur trade
Since the beginning of time people have been trading animal furs to
create pelts for protection
Around the 1600’s, there was an increasing demand for beaver fur to
create hats in Europe
Beaver pelts created high quality felt which was resistant to water and
very warm
At one point, the beaver became virtually extinct in Europe because of
the high demand for their fur which led European explorers to travel to
North America in search of beavers
The Europeans came in contact with the aboriginal peoples who traded
their pelts. This fuelled the fur trade
The beginning of the fur trade in Canada
Contact between the
Aboriginals in Canada and
Europeans grew when
Jacques Cartier sailed from
France to North America
in 1534
Cartier sailed on behalf of
the king of France in
search of gold and first
reached the Atlantic Coast
of Canada where he met
the Mi’kmaq peoples
The beginning of the fur trade in Canada
The Mi’kmaq were eager to trade their
furs with Cartier in exchange for
European tools and inventions such as
When Cartier travelled further inland, he
discovered the Iroquois who also traded
their furs
Cartier claimed the land for France and
the Tadoussac (St. Lawrence River)
became the centre of trade for the
French and aboriginal people
The aboriginal peoples were vital to the
fur trade because of their knowledge of
fur-trapping and navigation of Canadian
landscape which they passed on to the
Samuel de Champlain
In 1608, Samuel de Champlain realized
potential trade opportunities and travelled
to modern day Québec City in order to
establish a perminant settlement
Champlain wanted to bring the French
over to Canada, and the King gave him
permission provided that Champlain
established the fur trade
Samuel de Champlain sent his men to live
among the Algonquin and Huron people
in order to learn their culture and
It was part of his plan to strenghthen the
bond between the French and aboriginal
in order to keep the fur trade thriving
because they depended on the aboriginal
people’s resourses
English vs French
Shortly after Samuel de Champlain
established a perminent French
settlement in modern day Québec and
started developping the fur trade, the
English became interested in the
potential for money from the fur trade
Competition between the French and
English was fierce
England and France competed for
control over the land and resources and
shipped their beaver pelts back to
The competition between England and
France also caused disputes among
First Nations who took sides among
England and France.
Many wars between the French and
Wendat against th English and Iroquois
took place and the disputes lasted over
90 years, almost putting an end to the
fur trade
The Hudson Bay
Meanwhile, over serveral years,
explorers Martin Frobisher,
John Davis, and Henry Hudson
explored the Atlantic searching
for a Northwest Passage
In 1610, Explorer Henry
Hudson came across a bay
which was named after himself:
Hudson Bay
This marked an important day
in Canadian History and the fur
Médard Chouart des Groseilliers and
Pierre Radisson
Médard Chouart des Groseilliers and Pierre
Radisson were two french courieurs de bois
(fur traders who gathered fur from the
woods and traded with the First Nations)
who brought the fur trade back to life
During their travels, the two men met the
Sioux who told them about the abundant
amount of beavers up north near the
Hudson Bay
Coming back from the Hudson Bay, they
had thousands of beavers which were taken
away because the two men didn’t have rights
to the lands
The two men could not get financial
support for their expeditions from the
American or French so they started working
for the English
In 1665, they met with the king of England,
King Charles II who supported their
expeditions to collect furs
The Hudson's Bay Company is formed
Prince Rupert, the cousin of King
Charles II, aquired the Royal
Charter giving permission to the
land around the Hudson Bay to the
Governor and Company of Adventurers
of England trading into Hudson Bay
This gave Médard Chouart des
Groseilliers and Pierre Radisson
the permission to hunt beavers in
the lands of the Hudson Bay for
King Henry II
This was the foundation of the
Hudson’s Bay Company
The Governor and Company of Adventurers of
England Trading into Hudson's Bay
The charter giving King Charles II the
rights to the land around the Hudson
Bay were incorporated on May 2nd
The royal charter given to the
Governor and Company of
Adventurers of England Trading into
the Hudson Bay gave the company a
monopoly over the fur trade
The area was named Rupert’s Land
after Prince Rupert
This region that King Charles II owned
rights to consisted of (3.9 million km²)
and was 1/3 of the size of Canada
today and also included parts of the
United States
Rupert's Land was the largest purchase
of land in the 1800s
The beginning of The Hudson Bay
The headquarters of the Hudson’s Bay Company was established
in Fort Nelson which is in present day northeastern Manitoba
The Business was booming from 1714 until the late 1740s
bringing back profits to England
The Hudson's Bay Company had no competition since they were
the only company aloud to trade fur
The company built posts all along the Hudson Bay in present day
Manitoba, Ontario, and Québec and eventually began creating
“factories” inland
The First Nations and Métis peoples did most of the animal
trapping and pelt preparation for the Hudson’s Bay Company
Conflict for the Hudson’s Bay Company
The success of the Hudson’s Bay
Company began to slow down around
the 1750’s due to the Seven Years War,
a war between England and France
battling over land in Canada
Eventually Britain won back most of
the land that France had taken over
also taking over New France
After the war had ended, The Hudson’s
Bay Company had new competition
from North West Company in
The North West Company was formed
by former French coureurs de bois in
1783 who had no one to work for after
Britain won New France
Hudson’s Bay Company vs. North West
After the Hudson’s Bay company had a
monopoly over the fur trade for so long,
eventually the North West Company
became a strong competition
A rivalry formed between the two
companies trying to have control over the
fur trade
Around the 1800’s, a war began between
the two companies
They began to explore farther west in
order to find new trading partners,
traveling to Edmonton and Calgary and
establishing trading posts
After years of war, the North West
Company was defeated and in 1821, it
merged into the Hudson’s Bay Company
There was now no competition and the
company experienced success once again
Years of power and change
After merging with The North West Company, HBC owned
most of the land in Canada and was the most powerful
company in North America
In 1821, HBC started trading their furs from other
New technologies in treating fur made the need for beaver
less necessary
Different types of animals were now being used for
cheaper and silk hats were becoming fashionable
By 1840, the fur trade was shrinking and by 1870, it was no
longer a major industry
The beginning of the retail era
In 1867, the Dominion of Canada was
The government of Canada asked Britain
for the rights over Rupert’s land in fear that
the Americans would take over the land in
the west
The HBC signed the Deed of Surrender in
1869, signing most of their land over to the
British Crown which granted the land to
Canada in exchange for money and some of
the land
This started the retail era for the HBC, since
the fur trade had collapsed
The company started a new business selling
land to the farmers, settlers and developers
They also provided supplies for the settlers
in the West and opened its first retail store
in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1881
Hudson’s Bay Company Today
Most of the Hudson’s Bay Company stores
were in Western Canada until the 1960’s
when the company bought several chains in
Montreal and shortened their name to the
This led to the expansion to Eastern Canada
By 1978, it was the largest chain store in
Around the 1980’s, the Bay bought several
retail stores including Zellers, Simpsons,
Fields, Robinson’s, Home Outfitters and
many more
The Bay was still involved in the fur trade
up until 1991, when it sold the last of its
trading posts
It is now a chain of over 90 department
stores across Canada and is North America’s
oldest company
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