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The Métis in Western Canada: O-Tee-Paym-Soo-Wuk

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Hudson's Bay Company

The Hudson’s Bay Company was granted a royal charter on, 2 May 1670, by King Charles I. The King granted the HBC the sole right to trade in almost half of North America, an area known as Rupert’s Land. Rupert's Land was an area of about 1,244,160 km² that encompassed all the land that was drained by rivers flowing into Hudson Bay -- in short, much of what is now western and northern Canada. It was named after Prince Rupert, cousin of the King, who was also one of the principals of the company. In practice, the HBC became a formal, paternalistic commercial empire, ruled by a committee in London.

The HBC established a network of posts around the shores of the Hudson’s Bay. Unlike the French, the British were not concerned with developing a colony. They focused on trade instead. They began by planting "factories" in the inlets along the southern portion of Hudson’s Bay. They included the Moose Factory, the York Factory, and Servern. These settlements were meant to be places of industry and commerce, places where men went to make money for themselves and for the Company. The Cree acted as middlemen, purchasing furs inland and bringing them out to the Bay by way of a long, exhausting canoe trip. By the mid 18th century, the HBC had some posts and staging points just a few days upriver from the factories. Cumberland House, the first main inland post, was built in 1774, with Samuel Hearne in charge.

The pressure placed on the HBC by Montreal peddlers and new employees who had once been peddlers themselves forced the company to changed its tactics. They began to match the North West Company move for move, and in spite of the fact that they had fewer employees and a longer route inland, the HBC proved to be good competition for the NWC.

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Liens Rapides


Montreal Peddlers

North West Company

Hudson's Bay Company

Geography and Ecology

The Trade


Buffalo Rope Trade

Company Employment (Wage Labour)

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