Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




This study discusses the business history of the Hudson’s Bay Company during the period 1870 to 1900. For documentation it uses several manuscript sources, a number of the Company’s publications, and a wide variety of books, government documents and articles which refer tangentially to the Company. It proves that serious study of the Company can be undertaken despite the modern Hudson’s Bay Company’s restrictions on its archival materials dated after 1870. Earlier studies of the Company have usually been ’’romantic” history -- often relating sagas of the voyageurs -- or political history, discussing the imperial role of the Company. This history is neither romantic nor political, partly because the Company's officiai political responsibilities in Rupert's Land ended in 1870. The Company was slowly replaced by the Canadian government, and it became simply a business corporation. This thesis does show how the Company's collecting and marketing of furs continued to give it a global significance. A thematic approach is used to analyse the Company's head office control, its shareholders’ relations with the board, its personnel relations, transportation system and its fur trade. Its reformation of policy in 18/0, after relinquishing its legal monopoly, is discussed in Chapter One, and the later chapters show how this policy was applied in fact. The implications of these reforms for the Company’s business are highlighted, and it is pointed out that the Company’s relationship to its milieu was coloured by its business limitations and objectives. During the period, a revolution in politics, industry and society of the North and West occurred. Many of the major events of that revolution impinged upon the Company. Thus it is contended that the Company’s history mirrors much of Canadian history during the times.



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