Whatever happened to the Hudsons Bay Company

The story of the Hudson's Bay Company : America's oldest company takes over Kaufhof

In the small communities of northern Canada and the Canadian Arctic, the red roofs stand out clearly against the white snow. The Hudson’s Bay Company buildings, although no longer used as trading posts, are trademarks of many communities in the north. Churches once formed around the “Trading Posts”. The branches of the "Bay" were the nucleus of many cities. Even today, the department store chain with its 90 stores is part of the image of Canadian cities.

Much of Canada was once owned by the Hudson's Bay Company

The Hudson's Bay Company - HBC or "The Bay" - is Canada's largest department store, North America's oldest company and is now a Canadian-American company. HBC, led by the 49-year-old American Richard Baker, is now looking to Germany: It has submitted an offer to take over the Metro subsidiary Kaufhof. Baker's empire includes Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue and Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th in the USA, Home Outfitters in Canada, a furniture store for kitchen, bathroom and bedroom, and of course the company that gives the whole group its name: the Hudson ´s Bay Company.

The Hudson's Bay Company shaped Canada's history for a long time, although it was based in London for 300 years until 1970 and was only then registered as a Canadian company based in Winnipeg, later in Toronto. What is Canada today was in the past largely the land of the Hudson's Bay Company. On May 2, 1670, it was founded in London by a charter from King Charles II of England under the name "The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson's Bay" - as a "company of adventurers" who trade on the Operate Hudson's Bay. The Hudson's Bay Company had a monopoly of trade in the entire territory known as Rupert's Land, which is crossed by rivers that flow to Hudson's Bay. This large inland sea was named after Henry Hudson, who tried to discover the Northwest Passage at the beginning of the 17th century, the sea route from Europe to Asia through the island world of North America.

The company's trading posts grew into villages and towns

The fur trade was the main focus of the Bay’s activities. Their forts and trading posts stretched from northern Ontario across the coast of Hudson's Bay to far into the prairie and later to the far north of the continent and the Arctic. She owned more than a third of what is now Canada, nearly four million square kilometers. Trappers, Indians and Inuit came to the trading post and brought furs to exchange for ammunition, tools, cauldrons and pots, blankets and food. In the 18th century, where Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton are now, was primarily a branch of the Hudson's Bay Company. In 1821, HBC merged with rival North West Company, becoming a company that stretched from the Atlantic to the Pacific, including Canada and parts of the United States and the far north.

Settlers settled near the “Trading Post”. Small communities emerged in the remote regions. In 1870 the Hudson's Bay Company sold the land to the Government of Canada. From it the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta as well as the northern territories were formed later. Most of Canada's Arctic Inuit communities that emerged in the first half of the 20th century were established around Hudson's Bay Company trading posts, such as Pangnirtung and Apex, now part of Iqaluit, the capital of the Arctic Territory of Nunavut Settlement. Establishing communities was also a way for the Canadian government to establish sovereignty over the area.

Namesake Hudson died in what would later become Hudson's Bay

With the decline of the fur trade at the end of the 19th century, the company developed into a department store chain. Instead of furs, money was now used to pay. Today HBC is a Canadian-American company that is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and is also based there. In Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Ottawa the HBC resides in historic buildings in the inner cities. HBC targets customers in the upper income bracket and stocks almost all well-known brands in the apparel and housewares segment. In Canada's highly competitive department store market, HBC has to assert itself against smaller specialty stores in the clothing sector, for example, or large discounters like Wal-Mart - which works well.

But Henry Hudson, whose name lives on in Hudson's Bay, in the Hudson River near New York and in the Hudson's Bay Company, came to a sad end. After he and his crew had survived the winter of 1610/1611 in the bay that was later named after him and wanted to continue exploring the bay and the search for the Northwest Passage in the spring of 1611, most of the crew of his ship Discovery mutinied. Hudson, his son John, and seven loyal crew members were abandoned in a boat. They were never seen again.

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