The Hudson Bay Company began in 1670 and is the oldest commercial corporation in North America. It is also one of the oldest in the entire world.
It began as a fur trading business and they currently own many retail stores throughout Canada. Its headquarters are in Toronto, Ontario. When the fur trading business declined, the company evolved into a mercantile business that sold vital goods to settlers in the Canadian West.
In the 19th century the company became the largest private landowner. They owned 10% of the Earth’s surface. When HBC traded with native people, they exchanged wool blankets for beaver pelts trapped by native hunters.
The number of stripes woven into the blanket signified its weight and size. In 1821 the North West Company and the HBC merged. The merger made the company reach all the way to the Arctic Ocean to the North and the Pacific Ocean to the West. They maintained a monopoly on fur trade into the 19th century.