Toronto, ON and Winnipeg, MB (September 10, 2020) – For the first time in its history, Hudson’s Bay Company will put the Royal Charter on public display at the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg, MB – a city steeped in HBC history. The 350-year-old artifact joins the significant HBC Museum Collection already housed at the Manitoba Museum beginning Saturday, September 12, and will be on display through to early 2021. The Royal Charter is a pivotal historical document that had profound influence and impact on the history of Canada.
On May 2, 1670, King Charles II granted a Royal Charter to the “Governor and Company of Adventurers Trading into Hudson Bay”, launching what would become North America’s longest-operating company. The Charter established the original framework for the company’s governance and provided exclusive trading and land rights to the entire Hudson Bay watershed. This area was the unceded territory of Indigenous Peoples and comprised over 40% of modern-day Canada. The King named the area Rupert’s Land after his cousin and the company’s first Governor, Prince Rupert.
The Royal Charter exhibition will give Canadians access to this document, and encourage active engagement and conversation around important and complex issues related to its history.
“As stewards of a history that began 350 years ago, we take great responsibility in acknowledging, preserving and sharing the history of HBC and Canada,” said Richard Baker, Governor and Executive Chairman of HBC. “The Royal Charter is foundational to understanding not only our company, but also modern-day Canada. As we acknowledge our past and the role HBC played, specifically in the history of Indigenous Peoples, we are committed to encouraging discussion and learning, in part through access to artifacts and information such as the Royal Charter. While we look back on the past 350 years, this acknowledgement and education is vital to ensuring we create an inclusive and just path forward.”
“The history of HBC is the story of my family, and of many others descended from both First Nation and settler peoples,” said Jennifer Moore Rattray, member of the Manitoba Museum Foundation Board. “Over centuries, my Cree and Scottish ancestors trapped, hunted, and worked for HBC. The HBC Museum Collection is an important resource that can connect us to those family histories, while it helps to illuminate Canada’s complicated colonial history. At this time of truth and reconciliation, we have an opportunity to move forward together in a new way, and to create the country our ancestors dreamed of with equity and opportunity for all.”
“The success of HBC is undoubtedly due in large part to the partnerships created with Indigenous Peoples, and many of the artifacts in the HBC Gallery reflect that history. Like many 350-year old documents, the ideas represented here are outdated, yet the legacies of its implementation are still felt today, particularly surrounding land claims and rights within First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities,” says Dr. Amelia Fay, Curator of the Hudson’s Bay Company Museum Collection, which was donated to the Manitoba Museum for the benefit of all Canadians in 1994. “We are pleased to display the Royal Charter alongside the HBC Museum Collection, to help facilitate a broader understanding of the Company’s history and how it shaped this country.”
The Hudson’s Bay Company Royal Charter is available for viewing in the HBC Gallery and is included with admission to the Manitoba Museum, Thursdays to Sundays between 11 am and 5 pm.
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