Hudson's Bay Co collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of a map with the place names written in the dialect of the Labrador Eskimo

Administrative / Biographical History

Following the success of an expedition under Pierre Esprit Radisson and Medard Chouart des Groseilliers in the Hudson Bay region of North America between 1668 and 1669, Prince Rupert persuaded his cousin, King Charles II, to establish Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) by Royal Charter in 1670, granting the company a trading monopoly in the territory traversed by rivers flowing into Hudson Bay. A Governor was appointed to act on the company's behalf in the region and each trading post was commanded by a Chief Factor (trader) and his council of officers.

Although HBC struggled with the French for control of the fur trade of the region during its early years, France acknowledged Britain's claim to Hudson Bay in 1713 as a result of the Treaty of Utrecht. Following the transfer of Canada from France to Britain by the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the company encountered new competition from the Montreal-based fur traders, who later formed the nucleus of the North West Company. HBC embarked on a policy of inland expansion, beginning with the establishment of Cumberland House on the Saskatchewan River in 1774. Intensive competition and economic conflict with the North West Company led to a merger of the two companies in 1821, and Parliament extended HBC's trading monopoly to incorporate the territories of both companies. Changes in the administrative structure of the new company were introduced with the division of British North America into trading departments, which were then subdivided into districts. In 1821, George Simpson was appointed Governor of the company's northern department, later becoming Governor of both the northern and southern departments. Simpson encouraged exploration of his vast domain and he personally travelled constantly from one wilderness trading post to another.

During the latter half of the nineteenth century, the company began to relinquish its colonial responsibilities. In 1863, the International Financial Society bought controlling interest in the HBC and, following confederation in 1867, the company territory was sold for 300,000 to Canada in 1870. HBC developed into a large corporation with numerous interests, becoming one of the most important developers in western Canada. In 1930, the company was split, with the Canadian retail stores becoming a separate organization. Company headquarters were transferred from London to Canada in 1970, and most enterprises, other than retail stores, were sold off in 1983. In 1987, the Northern Stores division was sold and became the North West Company in 1990.


The collection is arranged chronologically

Conditions Governing Access

By appointment.

Some materials deposited at the Institute are NOT owned by the Institute. In such cases the archivist will advise about any requirements imposed by the owner. These may include seeking permission to read, extended closure, or other specific conditions.


Anyone wishing to consult material should ensure they note the entire MS reference and the name of the originator.

The term holograph is used when the item is wholly in the handwriting of the author. The term autograph is used when the author has signed the item.

Descriptions compiled by N. Boneham, Assistant Archivist with assistance from R. Stancombe and reference to Arctic, exploration and development c500 BC to 1915, an encyclopaedia by Clive Holland, Garland Publishing, London (1994) and Exploring Polar Frontiers, a historical encyclopaedia by William Mills, San Diego and Oxford, 2003 and The remarkable history of the Hudson's Bay Company... by George Bryce, Sampson Low, Marston London (1900) and The Hudson's Bay Company as an Imperial Factor by John S. Galbraith, University of California Press Berkeley (1957) and Canadian encyclopaedia and Bartleby

Other Finding Aids

Clive Holland Manuscripts in the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England - a catalogue, Garland Publishing New York and London (1982) ISBN 0824093941.

Additional finding aids are available at the Institute.

Conditions Governing Use

Copying material by photography, electrostat, or scanning device by readers is prohibited. The Institute may be able to provide copies of some documents on request for lodgement in publicly available repositories. This is subject to conservation requirements, copyright law, and payment of fees.

Copyright restrictions apply to most material. The copyright may lie outside the Institute and, if so, it is necessary for the reader to seek appropriate permission to consult, copy, or publish any such material. (The Institute does not seek this permission on behalf of readers). Written permission to publish material subject to the Institute's copyright must be obtained from the Director. Details of conditions and fees may be had from the Archivist.


Further accessions possible

Related Material

The Institute also holds 3 letters by the company amongst the Back loan. MS 395/78/1-3;BL HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY Correspondence (3 letters) regarding British Expedition in search of Ross, 1833-1835 (leader George Back), 1833 [William Smith and George Simpson to Back] 3 leaves, holograph

Corporate Names

Geographical Names