Connolly, papers

Scope and Content

  • MS 905;BJ Reminiscences of one of the last decedents of a bourgeois of the North West Company, undated [Hudson's Bay Company Trader] 1 volume, typescript (Xerox)

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.



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Related Material

The holds an archival collection for the Hudson's Bay Co

Additional Information

Public Archives, Canada (1982)