A brief history

This guide was last updated in 2012

The Hudson’s Bay Company was established in 1670 by an English Royal Charter to serve as an effective governing body for parts of North America that were not already in the hands of other European states or, later, the emerging United States.

As per the Charter it was given lands of the Hudson Bay to “the Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into the Hudson Bay.” This area became known as Rupert’s Land, named after Prince Rupert of the Rhine – the Hudson Bay Company’s first Governor.

Soon after its inception, the Company set up a number of posts to trade with natives, obtaining their furs and establishing a very successful business. During the 18th century, the Company had to venture further inland to match competition from rival companies.

It established posts through the river networks of Canada that would be the forerunners of Canada’s modern cities such as Winnipeg and Edmonton. Its 1821 merger with a major rival – the North West Company – saw it expand to cover the entire Pacific North West. As fur declined in popularity towards the end of the 19th century, the trading became less lucrative.

In 1870, the Hudson’s Bay Company signed the Deed of Surrender. Under the terms of this agreement, the Company transferred the majority of its land to the British Crown. The newly established Dominion of Canada, which had been formed in 1867, was then granted this land. It was at this point that it became a modern company and its business interest expanded into other spheres than the fur trade.

Soon, the Hudson’s Bay Company turned its trading posts into retail shops which is now company’s current manifestation. It is the longest-operated company in Northern America to this present day. Further details about its history can be found by clicking here.


Hudson's Bay Company
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