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No. 75


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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.

Governors of the Hudson’s Bay Company (1670-1985)

Term

Governor

1670-1682

His Highness Prince Rupert

1683-1685

HRH James, Duke of York (King James II)

1685-1692

John, Lord Churchill (Duke of Marlborough)

1692-1696

Sir Stephen Evans

1696-1700

Sir William Trumbull

1700-1712

Sir Stephen Evans

1712-1743

Sir Bibye Lake

1743-1746

Benjamin Pitt

1746-1750

Thomas Knapp

1750-1760

Sir Atwell Lake

1760-1770

Sir William Baker

1770-1782

Bibye Lake

1782-1799

Samuel Wegg

1799-1807

Sir James Winter Lake

1807-1812

William Mainwaring

1812-1822

Joseph Berens Jr.

1822-1852

Sir John Henry Pelly

1852-1856

Andrew Wedderburn Colvile (?-1856)

1856-1858

John Shepherd

1858-1863

Henry Hulse Berens

1863-1868

Sir Edmund Walker Head

1868-1869

The Earl of Kimberley

1868-1874

Sir Stafford Northcote (Earl of Iddesleigh)

1874-1880

George Joachim Goschen

1880-1889

Eden Colvile (1819-1893)

1889-1914

Donald Alexander Smith [Lord Strathcona] (1820-1914)

1914-1915

Sir Thomas Skinner

1915-1925

Sir Robert Molesworth Kindersley

1925-1931

Charles Vincent Sale

1931-1952

SIr Patrick Ashley Cooper

1952-1965

William Johnston Keswick

1965-1970

Derick Heathcoat Armory

1970-1982

George Taylor Richardson (1924-2014)

1982-1994

Donald Scott McGiverin (c1924-1998)

An MHS Centennial Business Award was presented to the Hudson’s Bay Company by Judith Hudson Beattie in January 1999.

Sources:

Company of Adventurers by Peter C. Newman, Viking Penguin Inc., Appendix 4.

This gallery was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 15 May 2014

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