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

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The BeginningsThe People and Their CommunitiesCulture and Lifeways
Company Men

The HBC after 1821 was re-organized to include some NWC partners and engagees. The resulting culture was based on the HBC structure and expectation of loyalty and dedication, but added some of the culture of the more relaxed NWC employees. There was one additional element: whereas before the HBC was the total boss of all of its factories and brigades, now it held the power of monopoly over the North West. In addition, the HBC constituted the only European-style legal authority between the Canadas and the Pacific. The company officers in the trading posts were the arbiters of judgment over the post and the community around it as well as the fur trade employees wherever their work took them.

One result of the domination of the HBC and its culture was the strengthening of the culture and development of the Company Man. The tendency to combine self-interest with company interest was strengthened by the distribution of a certain number of HBC shares to their officers. Before the re-organization, both the HBC and NWC had developed clusters of men who were inter-related by virtue of their marriages or lineage. For these men, their own welfare and that of their families, communities and trade were deeply interwoven.

Company men often based their identity on their position within the hierarchy of HBC. Some of the fifty-three traders who became partners (shareholders in the Company) began to identify their interests with those of the HBC. The partners were not the only men loyal to the HBC. TThere were families who developed in the fur trade, who always had someone working for the Company, and who based their identity on family and work. They called themselves the Hudson’s Bay People.

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Liens Rapides

Company Men

The Country Wives/ Summer Wives

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