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
It is now owned by an American.
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 real objective of the company was to
establish itself in the frozen wilderness as an
alternative to the French Canadian fur traders
To expand and dominate the trade from North
America to Europe.
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
•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
•This covered an area of 3.9 million square kilometres
(1.5 million sq mi), over one-third the area of Canada
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.
Other forts were established earlier, but captured
by France and changed hands several times:
• Charles Fort (1668)
• Moose Factory (1673)
• Fort Albany (1674)
by 1697 had captured all of Hudson's Bay
Company forts except for one: Fort Albany.
It would be 16 years before Britain regained
HBC coat of arms, showing the old Latin
pro pelle cutem: a skin for a skin.
The HBC motto is "pro
pelle cutem," which may
have a clever double
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:
animals, or hostile
traders could kill them!
The North West 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.
Paid by salary
“Pay at the Bay”
Better quality goods
Co. inthe world.
-Paid by commission
Go to the source
More expensive good