Thursday, May 2, 2013

May 2 - Hudson's Bay Company Day.

On this day in history in 1670, Charles II granted a charter to Prince Rupert and his "Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson's Bay". The charter granted the company a monopoly of trade in the Bay, and ownership of all lands drained by rivers flowing into the Bay.

In its 1st century of operations, the Hudson's Bay Company became firmly ensconced in a few forts and posts around the shores of the James and Hudson Bays. Natives bartered furs for manufactured goods: knives, kettles, beads, needles, blankets, etc. Late into the 18th century, competition forced HBC to expand into the interior. A string of posts grew along the great river networks of the west, foreshadowing the modern cities that would succeed them: Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg.

In 1821, the Hudson's Bay Company merged with its most successful rival, the North West Company based in Montreal. As a result, the merged commercial enterprise spanned the continent.

The Hudson's Bay Company rose to retail and diversification, focusing on department stores and the like (Zellers, The Bay, Home Outfitters).

In July of 2008, after a series of changes of ownership, the company was eventually acquired by the American private equity firm, NRDC Equity Partners.

Today is also Martin Z. Mollusk Day, National Day of Prayer, and  (in rebuttal) National Day of Reason!

Here are some interesting things that happened on this day in history:

- John Cabot departed to North-America in 1497.
- Adam Dollard des Ormeaux, with 16 Frenchmen and 44 Hurons and Algonquins, held an Iroquois war party at bay for days before capitulating in 1660; all the French defenders were killed.
- William Herschel discovered the 1st binary star, Xi Ursae Majoris, in 1780.
- Étienne Parent, journalist, who revived Le Canadien, giving it its famous motto: "Our institutions, our language and our laws," was born in Beauport, Lower Canada in 1802.

- The Canada Committee, a British parliamentary committee, was established in 1828 to settle political disputes that were paralysing government in Lower Canada and creating difficulties in Upper Canada.
- Czar Nicolas banned the public sale of "serfs" in 1833.
- Canadians under Colonel William Otter attacked the Cree camp near Cut Knife Hill in 1885, but were forced to withdraw.
- Hannibal W. Goodwin patented celluloid photographic film in 1887.
- "Take me out to the Ball Game" was registered for copyright in 1908.
- William deWitt Hutt, actor, director, first recipient of the Governor General's Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Canadian Theatre, was born in Toronto in 1920.

- The National Film Act created the National Film Board in 1939, headed by Scots film producer John Grierson. The NFB pioneered developments in social documentary, animation, documentary drama and direct cinema. Its films have won hundreds of international awards.

- The "Battle of Alcatraz" took place in 1946, killing two guards and three inmates.
- Arthur Miller won a Pulitzer Prize for "Death of a Salesman" in 1949.
- Tennessee Williams won a Pulitzer Price for Cat on Hot Tin Roof in 1955.
- Northern Dancer became the first Canadian horse to win the Kentucky Derby in 1964.

- The federal government and Trans-Canada Telephone Systems concluded an agreement to form Telesat Canada in 1969, for the development of communications satellites.
- Also in 1969, the British liner Queen Elizabeth II departed on its maiden voyage to New York.
- Expo 86 at Vancouver, BC, was opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales. It ran to 13 October 1986 and had 20 million visitors.
- Interim leader Michael Ignatieff became the official leader of the Liberal Party during the party's leadership convention in Vancouver, BC in 2009. He had been appointed acting leader on 10 Dec 2008, replacing Stéphane Dion.
- Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind behind the September 11 attacks and the FBI's most wanted man, was killed by the United States special forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan in 2011.

Stay tuned for our next, "On This Day in History"!

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