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No. 76


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MHS Centennial Business: The North West Company

The exact date that the North West Company began operations in what is now Manitoba is not as easily determined because few of the early records have survived. The name “North West Company” first described a group of Montreal traders who pooled resources in 1776 to reduce competition and to resist the inland advances of the Hudson’s Bay Company. But this was a loose association and it was only in the winter of 1783-1784 that the North West Company became an enduring multiple partnership controlled by the Frobishers and Simon McTavish. It is probable that the first post operated within Manitoba’s territories was Pine Fort, established in 1785 in what is now Spruce Woods Forest Reserve near Glenboro, Manitoba. Pine Fort was a provisioning post that supplied food to the canoe brigades. In 1821, after thirty-five years of conflict, the North West Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company united and their two histories were one until the Hudson’s Bay Company sold off its Northern Stores and The North West Company was re-incorporated in April 1987. Today the Company’s operations stretch across northern Canada and Alaska where they provide retail services to remote communities.

An MHS Centennial Business Award was presented by Judith Hudson Beattie in January 1999.

Page revised: 15 May 2011

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