Hudson's Bay Company

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Hudson's Bay Company

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The Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) was chartered May 2, 1670 in London, England by Medard Chouart des Groseilliers and Pierre Esprit Radisson. They had failed to acquire support in France for a trading company that would reach the interior in the New World via Hudson Bay. In 1665 they approached Prince Rupert who was cousin to King Charles II. A number of English merchants, noblemen and the King backed the venture financially. In 1668 the Eaglet and the Nonsuch sailed to the New World. The HBC was a joint-stock company which had a centralized bureaucracy. The shareholders elected a governor and committee to organize fur auctions, order trade goods, hire men and arrange for shipping. A governor was appointed to act on the shareholders behalf in the Bay area and each post was staffed by a chief factor (trader) and council of officers. The HBC competed with the French for control of the fur trade until 1763. The HBC erected forts on the mouths of major rivers flowing into Hudson's Bay. By 1774 the HBC expanded inland onto the prairies and over to the Pacific Ocean. Eventually the HBC was helping provision newcomers and settlers to the area by acting as a trading post. Now the HBC is a major business retailer with its head office in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In 1978 it acquired the controlling interest in the Simpsons and Zellers retail chains. It is the oldest incorporated joint-stock merchandising company in the English-speaking world. (Taken from: The Canadian Encyclopedia. Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers, 1985.)


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