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Hudson's Bay Company

The Hudson's Bay Company is the oldest corporation in Canada and is one of the oldest in the world still in existence. It was formed as an English corporation on May 2, 1670, and was given a Royal Charter by King Charles II of England. The charter granted it a monopoly over the Indian Trade, especially fur trade, in the region watered by all rivers and streams flowing into Hudson Bay in northern Canada, an area known as Rupert's Land. This region constitutes 3.9 million km² (1.5 million square miles), over one-third the area of modern-day Canada.

The Hudson's Bay Company building in Montreal

In 1821, the North West Company of Montréal and the Hudson's Bay Company merged, with a combined territory that was extended by a license to the Arctic Ocean on the north and the Pacific Ocean on the west. In 1870 the trade monopoly was abolished and trade in the region was opened to any entrepreneur. The company also lost its ownership of Rupert's Land.

One aspect of the company's operations was the Hudsons Bay Company Stores, trading posts that were set up across northern Canada. Today this is the only part of the company operation remaining, in the form of department stores referred to as The Bay. Many Hudson's Bay Company stores were until quite recently the only stores in remote towns. More recently they have transformed into boutique stores in their major downtown locations.

See also: British East India Company, Dutch East India Company, Dutch West India Company, John McLoughlin and British colonization of the Americas.

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