MHS Centennial Business: Hudson’s Bay Company
The Hudson’s Bay Company is the oldest company in North America, and the second-oldest in the world.
In 1670 Charles II granted a charter to the “Governor and Company of Adventurers of England Tradeing into Hudson’s Bay.” Its initial post was at Rupert’s House in what is now Quebec, followed by posts at Moose Factory and Albany in present-day Ontario. Although as early as 1673 attempts had been made to establish a post at Port Nelson (near York Factory), conflict with the French interfered. In 1684 Radisson helped the Hudson’s Bay Company to establish York Fort at the mouth of the Hayes River, the first fort and the oldest permanent settlement in the province of Manitoba.
The achievements of Hudson’s Bay Company are too numerous to describe in detail. The fur trade dominated its first two hundred years when it acted as the governing body for the vast region known as Rupert’s Land. Gradually the retail trade developed which is now the focus of its operations. And although London, England was the headquarters for three centuries, the heart of its operations for a large part of that time was York Factory and later Winnipeg, Manitoba. Even though the headquarters now resides in Toronto, the importance attached to Winnipeg and Manitoba is reflected in its 1994 donation to this province of its museum collection and archives, the former to the Museum of Man and Nature and the latter to the Archives of Manitoba. Through the Hudson’s Bay History Foundation, set up with the tax savings from that donation, it is providing ongoing funding for these treasures as well as supporting The Beaver magazine and Canada’s National History Society, both based in Winnipeg. And, of course they are active retailers in Manitoba operating stores under the Zeller’s name and The Bay, led by the flagship downtown store.
An MHS Centennial Business Award was presented to the Hudson’s Bay Company by Judith Hudson Beattie in January 1999.
Governors of the Hudson’s Bay Company (1670-1985)
Company of Adventurers by Peter C. Newman, Viking Penguin Inc., Appendix 4.
This gallery was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 23 December 2019