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
The Country Wives/ Summer Wives