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The Hudson's Bay Company

Charter company founded in 1670. The idea of a trading company that would do business in North America came from Médart Chouard Des Groseillers and Pierre-Esprit Radisson. Unable to convince the French authorities of this project's worth, they took their idea to England.

From its inception, the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) fought with the representatives of France in North America for control of the fur trade, sometimes taking up arms. After the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713, the French were forced to recognize the authority of the Company on the territory of Hudson Bay.

Following the Treaty of Paris of 1763, French developers left North America and were replaced by English businessmen from Montreal (North West Company). From 1774 to 1821, the HBC carried out a vigorous policy of exploration of the North American territory. It set up trading posts in an area ranging from northern Ontario to the west coast of the continent. The fur trade was no longer as profitable as it had once been, however, and competition from the North West Company adversely affected its cost effectiveness. The two businesses merged in 1821, primarily to the benefit of the HBC.

The HBC extended its hold on British North America by getting a renewal of its charter from the British Parliament. This charter granted the HBC a monopoly to operate in the territory. That is how it became the owner of Rupert's Land and the Northwest Territory until 1870.

That same year, the new Canadian government bought these two territories and thus created the Northwest Territories. The HBC retained ownership of a vast territory in the northern part of the continent but its activities no longer related to the fur trade. From that point on, the HBC concentrated on real estate development, the exploitation of natural resources and business with the settlers of the Canadian Prairies. It was on this basis that the Hudson's Bay Company developed its retail business.


Ray, Arthur J. -- "Hudson's Bay Company". -- The 1999 Canadian Encyclopedia : World Edition [CD-ROM]. -- Version 5. -- [s.l.] : McClelland & Stewart, 1998.