Hudson’s Bay Company & North West Company November 15th – Socials 10 Mr. Saunders
Early History • Founded in 1670 by King Charles II of England, following a successful fur trapping campaign by two Frenchmen through the wilderness beyond New France. • By establishing this company England was getting their own slice of the fur trade pie largely controlled by the French up to this point. • The area surrounding Hudson Bay was claimed by the king, and all unclaimed land that contained drainage rivers was renamed Rupert’s Land. • “Stay by the bay” policy was followed for the next century, as it encouraged First Nations peoples to trade their beaver pelts for other goods.
Policies • There was a rigid hierarchy that ran all the way up to the company directors in London. • Local bosses called “Factors” , as well as clerks and labourers at HBC posts across Rupert’s Land were also British. • Furs were shipped directly to England every summer, while trade goods were shipped from England at the same time. This was to avoid travel in the frozen Hudson Bay. • Marriage was discouraged, as the company didn’t want too many “dependents.” • While relations with First Nations and trappers were friendly, profit and territorial gain for Englandwere top priority. • Would not trade alcohol for furs. Very set trade prices.
Territory For a better map check p. 131 of Horizons
Early History • Montreal: 1783. Several smaller groups merge to create the NWC, and set out to provide competition for the HBC. • Largely French-based. Felt like they had been wronged by the HBC and wanted to take back the fur trade that had been taken from them. • Began to aggressively branch out west, surrounding the Hudson Bay area. NWC established inland posts all the way from Ft. William on Lake Superior to Ft. Kamloops and Ft. Providence on Great Slave Lake. • A “New” North West Company was formed in 1800, but was quickly absorbed.
Policies • Montreal was the gateway to the NWC, thanks to the St. Lawrence river. • An aggressive system of hivernants(the actual traders in the Northwest) and voyageurs (rode the rivers in canoes to bring goods back and forth between Montreal and the various posts) was established early on. Hivernants were shareholders, and therefore had concern for how the company was doing. • New trading areas, and those willing to explore them, were constantly sought after. • Seasonal travel was also a concern for the NWC. • Had no trouble trading pelts for alcohol. NWC was also willing to barter. • Marriage was encouraged, especially with First Nations women. More on this to come…
Territory For a better map check p. 133 of Horizons
MERGER • In 1821 the two companies were merged after a number of conflicts between the two, including some physical altercations and a lengthy legal battle back home in England (more on that later). The only way the two could survive was by merging into a single entity, creating the newly formed Hudson’s Bay Company. This new company was built up of 100 shares- 55 controlled by NWC partners and 45 controlled by HBC partners. Although the NWC controlled more shares the old HBC brass maintained control by utilizing their trade routes rather than the Montreal system. By 1825 the Montreal partners were fed up and sold their shares back to the HBC.
George Simpson • With the new HBC moving in a new direction George Simpson was named Governor of the Northern Department, meaning he would control all of North America’s HBC operations. He would later on became an important figure in the shaping of Western Canada through his constant exploration of northwestern areas of British North America.
Conclusion • The activities and people of these two companies play a significant role in the events we are going to talk about in the next few weeks. By introducing these events first we are setting the stage for what is yet to come.