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Hudson Bay Company (Canada)

Last modified: 2012-08-09 by rob raeside
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[Hudson's Bay Company flag]
by Jack Kowalski


 

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The Hudson's Bay Company

Until 1867, the Hudson's Bay Company controlled most of the area of modern Canada west of Ontario. A flag much used in this territory was the British Red Ensign (a red flag with the Union Flag on the canton) with the capital letters H B C in white on the fly: the letters H and B are joined together in a monogram arrangement. One of these flags is displayed in Christ Church Cathedral, in Victoria, British Columbia. This flag was probably the prototype for the Canadian Red Ensign and several provincial flags.
Peter Cawley - 30 May 1995


The 329-year-old department store which sprung out of the HBC has its own flag, but it's nothing like what was posted, but is instead (you guessed it), something like a coat of arms on a bedsheet (nice heraldic coat of arms on a plain white field - rare to see department stores here having heraldic arms, but since the store was founded in 1670.
David Kendall - 20 June 1999


A White Ensign

[example of Hudson Bay Company white ensign]
image contributed by Dov Gutterman

In the book, Picturesque Canada the country as it was an and is (George M. Grant, Toronto: Belden, circa 1882), there is the following as he describes Warren's Landing (one of the HBC's posts) which is a supply point for Norway House:

Meantime, canoes and "York boats" are constantly arriving from the post, the steamer having been expected. One of the latter, bearing a great white flag with the arms and motto (pro pelle cutem) of the Hudson's Bay Company, brings the factor in charge of the district.
Phil Nelson - 30 September 1999

From: Saving An Old Flag, Gus Norwood, http://www.fvhscc.org/1999history/flag.htm

The flag illustrates English heraldry which flourished in the 14th and 15th centuries. When Charles II granted the Hudson's Bay Company charter to his cousin Prince Rupert and 17 gentlemen in 1670, he asked that whenever the king visited the H.B.C. area, Prince Rupert should receive as a tribute the furs of one fox, two elk and four beavers. These seven animals make up the heraldic design.

Under the shield with its red cross of St. George is the gold-lettered motto "Pro Pelle Cutem" meaning "fair value in exchange for pelts." The H.B.C. began using such a flag in 1767 both on its ships and its forts.


Dov Gutterman, 30 August 2000

Governor's flag

"The flag of the Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company" is shown on: Port Cities

The date is given as 19th Century, image courtesy of the National Maritime Museum.
Jan Mertens, 20 February 2005