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English Colonies | France vs England | Fur Trade | HBC | The Mississippi | Le Petite Guerre | Containment | New France | Preparations | War | Treaty of Paris

The Hudson Bay Company  was incorporated on May 2, 1670 by Charles II of England under Royal Charter. It was, has and still is a defining feature of Canada's character and is the oldest incorporated company in the world still conducting it's original business. It ruled almost half the country for almost 2 centuries and still exerts a strong influence on Canada today. It's charter granted it all of the land with waters that ran into the Hudson Bay. The real objective of this company was to establish itself in the frozen wilderness as an alternative t the French Canadian fur traders and to expand and dominate the trade from North America to Europe. The area that the charter covered became known as Rupert's land which was form Prince Rupert who was the First Director of the Company and as a cousin to King Charles was instrumental in the acquiring of the charter. The area of Rupert's land was about 3.9 million square kilometres.

The Hudson Bay Company or HBC was given the exclusive right to trade furs in the are granted to them. The name of the company signified the geographic access to the heart of North America's rich fur trading area. The Hudson Bay lie like a big circle in the middle of Canada so during the summer months when the ice melted the company ships could bring supplies to the forts or factories (named for the HBC person or factor, trading items for furs) as they were referred to, and pickup the furs to be taken back to England. During the winter the animals would be trapped with their rich thick winter fur. In the spring the natives could bring their winter haul of furs downstream to the closest HBC trading post and exchange them for English or German manufactured products such as blankets, rifles, alcohol, knives or other handy produced items.

The first place where the HBC established a headquarters was at the mouth of the Nelson River, named Fort Nelson,  which lead into the interior river network. They then slowly established other posts in order to collect as many furs as possible. Cumberland House in Saskatchewan, was next and was built by Samuel Hearne.

This system of building forts at strategic points on the river system in order to attract the natives to bring in their furs contrasted shapely with the French system which was to send traders to the native camps and settlements and trade directly on site with the Indians. As the two systems/countries came into conflict violence sometimes broke out. The most famous example of this was when Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, in 1697,  sailed into the Bay, defeated a small squadron of 3 Royal Navy ships and then captured the HBC headquarters York Factory. The HBC claim to the area surrounding the Bay was finally recognized in the Treaty of Utrecht.

The influence of the HBC on Canada cannot be underestimated in that it eventually spread into almost all areas of the country. Rupert's land as the HBC and was known was eventually handed over the Canada in 1870 and the HBC became an important retail landmark in almost every city and town in the country and still plays a predominate role on the retail landscape in Canada today.