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