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Hudson Bay Company Begins


England’s King Charles II made a wise decision on this date involving the new world that created the Hudson Bay Company. The monarch granted a royal charter to an initial group of investors allowing them to trade in the Hudson Bay drainage basin in present day Canada.

That act in 1670 would initiate the start of English fur trading with America and lead to the early settlement of the land that would become North Dakota.

With language brimming with flourish and pride, the charter granted the Hudson Bay watershed to “the governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson Bay.” The Hudson Bay Company’s route would include all of what would become North Dakota and extended well beyond those boundaries.

It is well remembered that valuable real estate in America not only appealed to the British, but also attracted the French and Spanish to its shores. America’s northern territory went through a variety of ownership claims by those three countries. By 1763 the treaty of Paris decreed that all French lands drained by Hudson Bay became British, including the Red River Valley.

By the mid to late 1700s however, the trade route would merge inward, closer to Hudson Bay and what is now Lake Winnipeg, the depository for the north flowing Red.

The company hoped to establish a monopoly of trade for the highly valued fur the region offered. But by the end of the 18th century, Hudson Bay Company acquired a strong competitor with the institution of the Northwest Company, founded in Montreal.

When France sold the Louisiana Territory to the United States in 1800, most of the land North Dakotans call their own came under American ownership for the first time. The Red River Valley, however, was under British ownership where it would remain until 1818 when the 49th parallel, separating the two countries, was pronounced the official border between Britain and that of the United States.

Before President Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark out to explore a potential water route through Louisiana Territory, Alexander Henry Jr., in 1801, created a post at Pembina. The settlers in and around Pembina however, would associate themselves with England more than what would become Dakota Territory.

The English and French, in the midst of the fur business, also relied on the trade with – and the companionship of – American Indians of the region. The children of the Euro-American men and Ojibwa Indians became known as Metis’, meaning, “mixed” in French.

Dakota Datebook written by Steve stark


Robinson, Elwyn B. 1966, Univ. of Nebraska Press, History of North Dakota