The HBC Collection

For the past decade, Canada’s History has been highlighting artifacts from the HBC Collection of the Manitoba Museum.

Posted July 15, 2019

Tools and accessories

British trade musket

Musket evokes spiritual side of hunting.

Crooked Knives

Crooked knife blades were some of the earliest trade goods brought to North America from Europe by the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Gun case

Gun cases make it easy to transport rifles and shotguns and to protect the weapons from the elements.

Surgical Tools

HBC post managers working in remote locations were provided with a medical chest that included an assortment of surgical implements.

Trade Axes

Trade axes were an important and highly prized trade good throughout the fur trade era. 

Exploration

Keeping Time with Franklin

This pocket chronometer provides a direct link to the heroic age of Arctic exploration, and its tragic protagonist, Sir John Franklin.

First Nations, Inuit & Metis

Aboriginal Archery Set

Bows and arrows were one form of hunting implement.

Anishinabe Cradleboard

This object, called a tikanagan, likely once carried a heartily crying baby. It was designed to keep infants warm and safe and to make them easy to carry about.

Bandolier Bag

Tales and Treasures from the rich legacy of the Hudson’s Bay Company

Bark Shredders

Northwest Coast Indigenous peoples used various styles of bark shredders to soften cedar bark into fibrous layers.

Birchbark Canoe Model

A canoe model made by an Anishinabe man.

Caribou Comfort

This Iglulik Inuit-made qulittuq (man’s parka) was produced in the early twentieth-century from thick caribou skins to withstand the cold winters.

Chilkat Blanket

Chilkat blankets are one of the best examples of the Northwest Coast’s exceptional weaving industry.

Cree Bag & Horn

Both Indigenous and European traders would carry these commonly used firearm accessories.

Cree Moccasin

Hudson’s Bay Company employee George Simpson McTavish Jr., the son of a Scottish fur trader, brought back a pair of moccasins from Fort Churchill around 1887.

Cribbage Board

Cribbage was a popular game amongst early explorers and whalers.

Dene Dress

An example of early twentieth-century fashion in a moose-skin dress.

Dog Blanket

Dog blankets, sometimes called tuppies, were intended for show, not for warmth or protection.

Eider Duck Parka

The Inuit of southeastern Hudson Bay have been harvesting eiderdown for generations. 

Embroidered Pad Saddle

These saddles were made by women, and Métis women have been credited with exceptional expertise in their creation.

Graceful Weapon

Employed in the hunting and trapping of birds, this Inuit weapon was an elegant form of slingshot used during the early twentieth century.

Indispensable Ulu

The ulu was a must-have for every woman. This one was made in the early twentieth century in the area of Port Harrison, Quebec.

Inuit Snow Goggles

Snow goggles were designed to reduce the amount of sunlight reflecting off the snow, preventing snow blindness when outdoors.

Inuit Art

The sculptor Akeeaktashook is believed to be the artist of this piece entitled Inuk Fishing.

Inuit Raincoat

Gut-skin raincoats are one of many examples of how indigenous peoples used all parts of the animals they hunted.

Inuit Child's Parka

Parkas like this early 1940s coat, made by the Kimmirut Inuit, are quite rare.

Mushing Machine

For thousands of years, the Inuit used dogsleds to cross the harsh northern terrain. The sleds became a symbol of northern life.

Métis frock coat

This early 1820s hide coat is associated with the Métis culture from the Red River settlement area.

Pipe Tomahawk

Believed to have been developed by a blacksmith from England, this dual-purpose invention was highly valued by Aboriginal traders.

Tsimshian Fish Hook

A fisherman would lash a barb to one arm of the hook and traditionally carved a “spirit helper” into the other arm to provide supernatural assistance.

Tea Doll

Not every doll that attends a child’s tea party is a tea doll. 

Fur Trade

Bale Seal

Bale seals are one of the most commonly forged Hudson’s Bay Company artifacts on the market.

Beaver Club Medal

The Beaver Club medal from Sir George Simpson.

The Bible Bag

Women embraced the abundance of colours of glass beads to create beautiful designs, like this elaborate and symmetrical floral pattern.

Cutlass and scabbard

The HBC Museum Collection contains four identical cutlasses and scabbards, all marked with Labouchere, after an HBC steamship that served the west coasts of Canada and the United States.

Chevron Trade Beads

Hudson’s Bay Company chevron trade beads were seen as symbols of friendship and given to indigenous people as gifts, to forge alliances or treaties, and to permit passage.

Dinnerware set

Fancy dinnerware is probably not the first thing to come to mind in regard to the fur trade. 

Fort Garry Tea

A cold winter day and a hot cup of tea — a comforting combination brought to both urban dwellers and those in the furthest reaches of the Canadian North.

Fur Trader's Jacket

Its exceptional quality is a reflection of the expert eye and skills of Lydia Catherine Christie.

Frances Simpson’s Engraved Seal

This nineteenth-century engraved seal was used to secure the contents of a letter as well as to identify the sender.

Game Bag

This game bag, used to carry pelts of small mammals, is made from woven rawhide, known as babiche, and smoked caribou hide

Hair Pomade

Priced at two shilling six pence, bear fat was one of the many commodities the Hudson’s Bay Company bought and sold.

HBC Blanket

Famous the world over, for a lifetime of luxurious comfort and warmth — Hudson's Bay Point Blankets.

HBC Flag

This variation of the 1682 British Royal Navy’s Red Ensign flew during the HBC 250th-anniversary parade at Lower Fort Garry, Manitoba, on May 2, 1920.

Liquor Stand & Decanter

A liquor stand and decanter that once belonged to HBC Chief Factor John Rae.

Schooner model

This model was commissioned by the HBC and built by Alan Coburn of Nanaimo, British Columbia, in the 1930s.

Scrimshaw Container

Trading Post: The art of scrimshaw was applied to a container made from a horn.

Spectacular Knife

Often called a buffalo knife or chief’s knife, this artifact was described as “extremely heavy… a sort of butcher’s cleaver with a point instead of squared-off end.”

Spirited Trade

The Hudson’s Bay Company has been selling alcoholic spirits since its inception.

Tobacco Carrot

More than sixty-five tonnes of tobacco moved through York Factory between 1720 and 1774. Much of it was packaged in a form known as a carrot, because it resembled the shape and size of the vegetable.

Tobacco Pipes

Clay tobacco pipes became part of European culture after explorers encountered Indigenous peoples in North America in the sixteenth century.

Traveller's Cassette

The cassette seen here was once owned by George Simpson McTavish Jr., who was born at Fort Albany on the west coast of James Bay.

Transportation

HBC Carriole

Carrioles allowed trappers to transport supplies and furs throughout the winter. Pulled by dogs, they were sometimes used to transport high-profile people.

A Ship Beyond Compare

The Nonsuch replica at the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg has long been a favourite for people of all ages.

Unsinkable Ghost Ship

In the 1920s, the HBC was looking to expand its markets and sent a small group on the S.S. Baychimo to post-revolutionary Russia.

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