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Hudson’s Bay Company. What is it?. The HBC , is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and is one of the oldest in the world.

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Hudson’s Bay Company

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what is it
What is it?
  • The HBC, is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and is one of the oldest in the world.
  • It was once the de facto government ("concerning the fact" or in practice but not ordained by law) in parts of North America before European-based colonies and nation states existed.
  • It was at one time the largest landowner in the world.
  • It is now owned by an American.
who started it
Who started it?
  • Two French traders, Pierre-Esprit Radisson and Medard des Grosseilliers, learned of excellent fur trading grounds and sought permission from the French to build a trading post on the bay, making it easier to move furs by sea rather than by land.
  • However, the recently appointed French Secretary of State, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, was trying to promote farming in the colony, and was opposed to exploration and trapping.
  • The two men got help from Boston businessmen and went to ask Britain for financial backing.
  • After financing an expedition, King Charles II granted the men a Royal Charter.
  • The charter granted the company a monopoly over the Indian Trade, especially the fur trade, in the region watered by all rivers and streams flowing into Hudson Bay in northern Canada, an area known as Rupert's Land after the first governor of the Company, Prince Rupert of the Rhine, a first cousin of Charles.
  • Prince Rupert helped convince Charles to finance and grant the charter.
  • The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson's Bay was incorporated on May 2, 1670, with a Royal Charter from King Charles II.
  • Areas once belonging to Rupert's Land include all of Manitoba, most of Saskatchewan, southern Alberta, southern Nunavut, northern parts of Ontario and Quebec, as well as parts of Minnesota and North Dakota and very small parts of Montana and South Dakota.
  • This covered an area of 3.9 million square kilometres (1.5 million sq mi), over one-third the area of Canada today.

The first company headquarters on the bay, Fort Nelson, was established at the mouth of the nearby Nelson River in 1682.

  • The establishment of the fort provoked a quick response from France, which sent a naval force to Hudson Bay to capture and destroy the fort in 1684.
  • The company built a second fort on the Hayes river, naming it after the Duke of York.

The HBC motto is "pro pelle cutem," which may have a clever double meaning. One interpetation is that it means they wanted the skin, cutem, for the sake of the fleece, pro pelle. The other is that it means "for the pelts which we collect, we risk our skins." They believed they were taking a risk with their money by going into the business. For the traders in Canada, the risk could even more real: weather, accidents, animals, or hostile traders could kill them!

HBC coat of arms, showing the old Latin motto

pro pelle cutem: a skin for a skin.

what was the northwest company
What was the Northwest Company?
  • A partnership of Scottish and American capitalists who moved to Montreal beginning immediately after the fall of New France in 1763.
  • 1783 – a number of smaller companies merged to form the NWC. Used french employees and french contacts.
  • How were the trading methods of the NWC different from those of the HBC?
  • Use your textbook and write the answers using a “T” chart in your notebook.
british north america the fur trade
  • HBCo.
  • Paid by salary
  • “Pay at the Bay” policy
  • Discouraged alcohol
  • Discouraged fraternization
  • Better quality goods
  • Oldest continuous Co. inthe world.
  • NWCo.

-Paid by commission

  • Go to the source policy
  • Aggressive trade policy
  • Encouraged marriages
  • More expensive good