HUDSON BAY -CANADA - HISTORY - 1779
COMPETITION WITH NORTH
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Source: Canadian History
One of the Hudson's Bay Company's fiercest early competitors was North West Company, established in 1779 by a Scottish-Canadian group of nine traders that moved into the Canadian interior around 1780 and claimed to be the rightful successors to the early French traders who had opened up the land. North West Company had two types of shareholders: the eastern partners, merchants in Montreal and Quebec who supplied the venture capital, and the "wintering" partners, who became responsible for exploratory and sales operations. By 1800 North West became a serious competitor, forcing Hudson's Bay Company to become increasingly more adventurous, pushing the trade boundaries westward from Hudson Bay, in fear of losing trade with the western Indians. Each company drove the other toward new expeditions and soon each had men trading on the upper Missouri River.
North West's Alexander Mackenzie, who later was knighted, was the most famous fur trader of his day. Mackenzie pushed the trade boundaries farther westward. Several of his trade expeditions were historical achievements: in 1789 he covered 1,600 miles and back in 102 days, and in 1793 he crossed the Rocky Mountains to reach the Pacific Ocean.
Other companies also envied the apparent monopoly of Hudson's Bay Company. U.S. traders wanted a share in the fur trade following the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804 to 1806. In 1808 Pierre Chouteau, William Clark, and five others established the Missouri Fur Company, and in New York John Jacob Astor, the leading fur dealer in the United States, started the American Fur Company, capitalized at $300,000, of which he owned all but a few shares.
Peter Skene Ogden, who worked for a time for the American Fur Company, moved to Quebec after being appointed judge of the Admiralty Court in 1788. Ogden wanted to be among the first white men to see the great wilderness. After living in Quebec for six years with his wife and children, he was sent by North West Company into the interior of North America to clerk at the company's post in what is today Saskatchewan Province. Ogden wintered on the prairies for the first time in September 1810, where he met Samuel Black, a Scotsman and also a clerk, who would become a lifelong friend. The two men made a sport of harassing Hudson's Bay men. Among the tales cited by Gloria G. Cline, author of Peter Skene Ogden and the Hudson's Bay Company, was that of the harassment of Peter Fidler of Hudson's Bay Company. Fidler departed in three boats with 16 men for Churchill Factory on Hudson Bay, an important post, and Ogden, with two canoes full of Canadians, taunted the British traders for six days by keeping just ahead of them "to get everything from Indians that may be on the road, as they can go much faster than us," according to Fidler. Ogden was a much valued employee of North West and was promoted as a result of his antics with Black.
Till we meet again - Regards - edmondsallan