Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Hudson's Bay Company Papers, 1775-1914

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, December 2009

Summary Information
Title: Hudson’s Bay Company papers
Creator: William L. Clements Library
Inclusive dates: 1775-1914
Bulk dates: 1775-ca. 1790
Extent: 0.25 linear feet
Abstract:
Hudson’s Bay Company papers consist of correspondence, financial records, and a memorandum book of the Canadian-based company. Also included is a printed version of Andrew Burnaby's Travels through the Middle Settlements In North America... and a manuscript of Thoughts on the Furr Trade With the Indians in N. America , extracted from the papers of the late John Gray of Quebec (1768).

Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1922 and 1949. M-746, M-4828.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown.

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Hudson’s Bay Company papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

This collection contains Correspondence, Documents, Financial Records, a Memorandum Book, and a book that contains Andrew Burnaby's 1775 Travels through the Middle Settlements of North America, and a manuscript of Thoughts on the Furr Trade With the Indians in N. America.


History

The Hudson's Bay Company was founded on May 2, 1670, when the company, under Prince Rupert, obtained a royal charter from King Charles II, which established the company as a legal entity, granting them exclusive trading rights and authority over the drainage area of the Hudson Bay basin. This joint-stock company had a centralized bureaucracy that elected a governor to manage the corporation. The chief factor and his officials produced reports and accounts that were sent back to London for review. The focus of the company was trading fur, which, at that time, was abundant in the region. They exchanged manufactured goods with the native population in exchange for furs, which they then sent to England and Europe. After the Treaty of Paris (1763), in which the British gained control of Canada from the French, the Company expanded from posts along the coasts of the Hudson and James Bays into deeper land-based outposts. By 1774, they had established Cumberland House on the Saskatchewan River, and over the next 40 years continued to expand in order to compete with an increasing number of fur trading competitors such as the North West Company, American Fur Company, and the Revillon Frères. During the 19th century, the Hudson's Bay Company continued trading fur, but expanded into other retail markets such as food and liquor, and today it supplies major retail channels throughout Canada.


Collection Scope and Content Note

Hudson’s Bay Company papers consist of 4 letters, 4 financial records, 1 memorandum book, and 1 printed book containing manuscript contents. The first five items are letters and documents that came from the Hudson Bay Company's post at the mouth of the Michipicoten River (1859-1870), including two business letters between employees Lieutenant Denis de Larondo and James Watts, and an account of payment to Indians living on the North Shore of Lake Superior. The next three items are financial records from the company's New Brunswick post on the Missinaibi Lake near Moose River (1872, 1889, 1914). The Hudson's Bay Company Memorandum book contains a copy of the Hudson's Bay Company charter; copies of the charters for each of the 13 colonies; a map of the towns and rivers…..that were ceded to Britain by Spain according to the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht (pages 24-25); memoranda and account information such as shipment details, personnel payments, and lists of goods traded; a shaded pencil sketch of a carronade gun (pages 34-35); and various historical reports, including one tracking company stocks from 1676-1779. Other interesting documents include a list of the provisions needed to support 40 men for 6 months, a proposed station for ships in 1790, and "Information of Isaac Ogden of Quebec to David Ogden in London," which describes the interior of North America from the Hudson Bay to the Pacific and discusses terrain and water features, as well as fur trading potential for the regions.

The final item is a single vellum covered volume titled "HB 1770" that contains both a printed version of Andrew Burnaby's Travels through the Middle Settlements In North America... and a manuscript of Thoughts on the Furr Trade With the Indians in N. America extracted from the papers of the late John Gray of Quebec (1768). The volume begins with a map of North America from 1763, just before the beginning of the 107-pages of Burnaby's Travels . The Gray writings detail interaction with the land's native populations and methods of trading for furs in the area (36 pages). Buried in the final 64 blank pages are five pages documenting the Original Proprietors of the Hudsonbay Stock 1667 , 7 pages of stock accounts from 1720-1789, and accounts from 1776-1790. The volume also houses a loose letter to the Hudson's Bay House in London confirming a shipment of goods with prices (1791).

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Canada--Description and travel--Early works to 1800.
    • Cannons--Pictorial works.
    • Fur trade--Canada.
    • Fur trade--Hudson Bay Region--History.
    • Fur trade--North America.
    • Great Britain--Colonies--America--Administration.
    • Hudson Bay Region--Description and travel.
    • Hudson’s Bay Company--Records and correspondence.
    • Hudson’s Bay Company. Charter (1670)
    • Indians of North America--Canada.
    • Indians of North America--Commerce--Canada.
    • North America--Description and travel.
    • Superior, Lake, Region--Description and travel.
    • Trading posts--Canada.
    • Treaty of Utrecht (1713)
    • United States--Politics and government--To 1775.
    Contributors:
    • De Laronde, Henry.
    Genre Terms:
    • Books.
    • Financial records.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Maps.
    • Memorandums.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Box   1 Folder   1
    Correspondence and Documents,   March 21, 1859-1870 [series]:
     
    Financial Records and Documents [series]:
    Box   1 Folder   2
      June 3, 1872,  October 1889,  [January] 1914
    Volume   1  
    Thoughts on the Furr Trade with the Indians in North America…
    Volume   2  
    Hudson’s Bay Company Memorandum Book
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Alternate Locations

    The following map is housed in the Clements Library's Map Division:

    Posts of the Hudson's Bay Company 1790. [ca. 1790].

    Related Materials

    Burnaby, Andrew, and Francis Fauquier. Travels through the middle settlements in North-America, in the years 1759 and 1760: With observations upon the state of the colonies. London: Printed for T. Payne, 1775.

    The primary Hudson Bay Company's archives are located in the Archives of Manitoba.

    Bibliography

    Ray, Arthur J. "Hudson Bay Company" The Canadian Encyclopedia. The Historica Foundation. 2009.