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Hudson's Bay Company Posts fonds

1683-1911, predominant 1683-1888

Physical Description:
41 cm of textual records. -- 4 microfilm reels

The Hudson's Bay Company was established by royal charter in 1670 and given trading rights in Rupert's Land, the territory crossed by rivers flowing into Hudson Bay. The HBC developed a centralized bureaucracy in which shareholders elected a governor and committee to organize fur auctions, hire staff, order trade goods and arrange shipping. Each HBC post was run by a chief factor or trader and council of officers. From 1713 to 1773 the HBC set up posts at the mouths of the major rivers flowing into the Bay, the most important being York Factory, Manitoba, but in subsequent years the company expanded inland. In 1821 it merged with the North West Company and extended its monopoly privileges to the North-West Territories. Posts in the Territories included Fort Dunvegan and Fort Vermilion, Alberta, Fort St. John and McLeod's Lake, British Columbia and Qu'Appelle Lake, Saskatchewan. British North America was divided into trading departments and districts. District managers met annually in departmental council meetings to pass regulations regarding local trade and deployment of staff and posts. In 1863 the International Financial Society bought controlling interest in HBC and the outlook shifted from the fur trade to real estate speculation and economic development in western Canada. In 1870 Rupert's Land was sold to Canada and HBC received a cash settlement, one-twentieth of fertile lands open for settlement and retained title to its trading posts. The company carried out increasing amounts of business with settlers, first through the posts and later through its retail and wholesale divisions.

Custodial History:
The Fort St. John fur account book was found by John Chappell in the abandoned HBC fort at Fort St. John in 1942 and given to the Glenbow on an extended loan in 1961.

Scope and Content:
The fonds consists of journal of daily occurrences at York Factory (1786-1789); McLeod's Lake post journal (1845-1848); Qu'Appelle Lake post journal (1857-1858 [typescript]); Fort St. John post fur account book (1909-1911); minutes of Northern Department council meeting (1883); and diary of Mr. Robinson, secretary of HBC commissioner, Joseph Wrigley, about 1887 trip to Alberta and Saskatchewan HBC posts (photocopy). Includes Fort Vermilion post balance sheet (1888); invoice from York Factory to Swan River District (1852); Fort Dunvegan daily account book (1891-1899 [photocopy]) and line of credit (1888); correspondence with French about claims to Hudson Bay (ca. 1687 [microfilm]); James Keith NWC and HBC papers (1802-1851 [microfilm]); Arthur Dobbs papers about HBC and search for Northwest Passage (1683-1752 [microfilm]); statement of account with Wesleyan Mission (1841-1842); statement of account with Russian American Fur Co. (1843-1844); anonymous diary kept during 1852 flood of Red River; letter from William Hemming Cook (1802), letter from Hugh Inkster (1801), letter from William Smith (1839), John Willes stock sale (1832).

Source of Acquisition:
Gifts of Joan Hudson, John Chappell, Mr. L.W. Bessell, Mr. T.R. McCloy, and H.A. Dempsey, and purchased or copied from a variety of sources, 1960-1978.

The material is in English.

Originals and Reproductions:
See inventory for location of original records for which Glenbow holds only copies.

The McLeod's Lake post journal and the Northern Department council minutes are restricted due to fragile condition. Copies are available for research purposes.

Finding Aids:
Inventory available. Please consult before requesting material.

View finding aid / scanned documents:

Other HBC records are in the Richard C. Hardisty fonds at the Glenbow, and at the Hudson's Bay Archives. Records of the Fort Resolution post are in the James Kennedy Cornwall fonds at Glenbow.

Call Numbers:
(M=manuscript; N&P=photos; R=sound recordings; S=slides; F=films)
M-1346, M-1509, M-1512, M-1513, M-1520, M-1523, M-1526, M-1527-os, M-1530, M-1531, M-3228, M-3235, M-3236, M-3480, M-3507, M-4756, M-4843-20, Microfilm-Dobbs, Microfilm-HBC-1, Microfilm-HBC-2, Microfilm-HBC-Keith

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