Hudson's Bay Company Grabs Share of Red River Fur Trade

Pembina, 1801

The race for furs is heating up. The Hudson’s Bay Company has opened a new trading post in Pembina. Fierce competition is expected between the new business and Alexander Henry’s North West Company Post.

The Hudson’s Bay Company brings considerable experience in fur trading to Pembina. The company is the oldest trading corporation in the world. It began in 1670 when King Charles II of England gave it a royal charter. The charter granted the Hudson’s Bay Company a complete monopoly on the fur trade in the area of all the rivers that drained into Hudson Bay. By law only the Hudson’s Bay Company could operate in this vast area.

The company has had difficulty enforcing the monopoly. The French traders cut into the edges of their territory. Soon after Canada came into British hands in 1763, the North West Company began to compete with the Hudson’s Bay Company.
Only if a company or a fur trader is stronger than the competition, can an area be controlled. The best way to win the war in furs is to build trading forts in more places than the other companies and to build loyalty among the Indian people. In Pembina it appears that Alexander Henry has the edge simply because he got here first.

By Dr. D. Jerome Tweton


Originally published as The North Star Dakotan student newspaper, written by Dr. D. Jerome Tweton and supported by the North Dakota Humanities Council.

Subject Matter

Social Studies

North Star Dakotan:

Journals and Art Work: The Indian People, The Trade, and The Land

The Indian People

The Purchase and Exploration of Louisiana

The Fur Trade

Dakota Territory

The Military Frontier

The Reservation System

George Armstrong Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn

The Great Dakota Boom, 1878-1890

Reservation Troubles, 1886-1890

The Making of a State and a Constitution

The North Dakota Economy, 1890-1915

Life on the Indian Reservations

The North Dakota National Guard and the Philippines

North Dakota, The Great War and After

The Nonpartisan League's Rise to Power

The Nonpartisan League in Power

The Nonpartisan League's Decline

The 1920s

1930s: North Dakota's Economic and Political Climate

The New Deal in North Dakota

The Road to World War II

North Dakota and American Society

North Dakota Optimism and Economic Developments

North Dakota and Political Change