Monday, March 09, 2020

History of the HBC: approaching 350

The Bay's former flagship store in Winnipeg
May 2, 2020 will mark the 350th anniversary of the chartering of the Hudson Bay Company, now long established among North America's oldest company.  

Canada's History has been working up an issue to mark the anniversary, which subscribers will be receiving soon. Recently the Toronto Star also noted the looming anniversary, juxtaposing it against the modern retail giant's current struggles (and the now ever-looming possibility that the HBC's survival is in doubt) and the ambiguities of its history.
For the Indigenous trappers HBC relied on, the trade was “a mixed blessing,” says Arthur Ray, professor emeritus of history at the University of British Columbia. Along with the guns, pots, foodstuffs and the now-iconic point blankets, which were bartered for furs at HBC trading posts, came “smallpox, measles, whooping cough and all sorts of diseases they hadn’t had to deal,” Ray notes.
As part of its coverage of the anniversary, Canada's History is soliciting readers' memories and images of their own interaction with The Bay. 
Follow @CmedMoore