Finding Fridays – The Hudson’s Bay Company

History in the Canadian West.

The explorers discovering the vast west and conquering mountains in harsh, often cold climates weren’t at all interested in settling the land.  Unlike the American west’s large influx of wagon trains heading out to settle the west, the west in Canada was explored by canoe along the rivers that ran out to the ocean.  The fur trappers/traders of companies like the Northwest Trading Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company (who gained a monopoly in the west) were our first explorers. Sieur de La Vérendrye  in recorded Canadian history is the first white man to see the astounding Canadian Rockies. Other famous explorers were men searching for furs, not new lands to settle.

Fort William

Fort William – Head office on the tip of Lake Superior (west) for the Northwest Fur Trading Company

Both the Northwest Trading Company and the Hudson’s Bay had forts scattered across the west right to the ocean and these men played a huge part in exploring this huge country called Canada.  I discovered they, especially the Hudson’s Bay Company,  avoided the southern Alberta Blackfoot Confederacy.  The Blackfoot were too hostile.  They worked with the Cree, who were more friendly and helpful for their purposes.  The Blackfoot Confederacy is one of the reasons why Southern Alberta was the last part of Canada to be settled.

The Hudson’s Bay was not interested in establishing settlements, so other than Metis farmers, few remained to live in the west.  They were our first transients.  Most wanted to make money, then return to Eastern Canada or England to live.  For as long as the Fur Trade owned the west there was little to no settlements and the lands remained wild and free. Sometimes The Hudson’s Bay negotiated with people who wanted settlements and Winnipeg in Manitoba is an example of one of the first western settlements.  The Hudson’s Bay did sell land to Lord Selkirk, who brought settlers over from England to farm.

Fort Garry

Fort Garry (presently Winnipeg) – A Hudson’s Bay fort in the west.

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