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For the past decade, Canada’s History has been highlighting artifacts from the HBC Collection of the Manitoba Museum.
Musket evokes spiritual side of hunting.
Crooked knife blades were some of the earliest trade goods brought to North America from Europe by the Hudson’s Bay Company.
Gun cases make it easy to transport rifles and shotguns and to protect the weapons from the elements.
HBC post managers working in remote locations were provided with a medical chest that included an assortment of surgical implements.
Trade axes were an important and highly prized trade good throughout the fur trade era.
This pocket chronometer provides a direct link to the heroic age of Arctic exploration, and its tragic protagonist, Sir John Franklin.
Bows and arrows were one form of hunting implement.
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.
Tales and Treasures from the rich legacy of the Hudson’s Bay Company
Northwest Coast Indigenous peoples used various styles of bark shredders to soften cedar bark into fibrous layers.
A canoe model made by an Anishinabe man.
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 blankets are one of the best examples of the Northwest Coast’s exceptional weaving industry.
Both Indigenous and European traders would carry these commonly used firearm accessories.
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 was a popular game amongst early explorers and whalers.
An example of early twentieth-century fashion in a moose-skin dress.
Dog blankets, sometimes called tuppies, were intended for show, not for warmth or protection.
The Inuit of southeastern Hudson Bay have been harvesting eiderdown for generations.
These saddles were made by women, and Métis women have been credited with exceptional expertise in their creation.
Employed in the hunting and trapping of birds, this Inuit weapon was an elegant form of slingshot used during the early twentieth century.
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.
Snow goggles were designed to reduce the amount of sunlight reflecting off the snow, preventing snow blindness when outdoors.
The sculptor Akeeaktashook is believed to be the artist of this piece entitled Inuk Fishing.
Gut-skin raincoats are one of many examples of how indigenous peoples used all parts of the animals they hunted.
Parkas like this early 1940s coat, made by the Kimmirut Inuit, are quite rare.
For thousands of years, the Inuit used dogsleds to cross the harsh northern terrain. The sleds became a symbol of northern life.
This early 1820s hide coat is associated with the Métis culture from the Red River settlement area.
Believed to have been developed by a blacksmith from England, this dual-purpose invention was highly valued by Aboriginal traders.
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.
Not every doll that attends a child’s tea party is a tea doll.
Bale seals are one of the most commonly forged Hudson’s Bay Company artifacts on the market.
The Beaver Club medal from Sir George Simpson.
Women embraced the abundance of colours of glass beads to create beautiful designs, like this elaborate and symmetrical floral pattern.
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.
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.
Fancy dinnerware is probably not the first thing to come to mind in regard to the fur trade.
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.
Its exceptional quality is a reflection of the expert eye and skills of Lydia Catherine Christie.
This nineteenth-century engraved seal was used to secure the contents of a letter as well as to identify the sender.
This game bag, used to carry pelts of small mammals, is made from woven rawhide, known as babiche, and smoked caribou hide
Priced at two shilling six pence, bear fat was one of the many commodities the Hudson’s Bay Company bought and sold.
Famous the world over, for a lifetime of luxurious comfort and warmth — Hudson's Bay Point Blankets.
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.
A liquor stand and decanter that once belonged to HBC Chief Factor John Rae.
This model was commissioned by the HBC and built by Alan Coburn of Nanaimo, British Columbia, in the 1930s.
Trading Post: The art of scrimshaw was applied to a container made from a horn.
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.”
The Hudson’s Bay Company has been selling alcoholic spirits since its inception.
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.
Clay tobacco pipes became part of European culture after explorers encountered Indigenous peoples in North America in the sixteenth century.
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.
Carrioles allowed trappers to transport supplies and furs throughout the winter. Pulled by dogs, they were sometimes used to transport high-profile people.
The Nonsuch replica at the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg has long been a favourite for people of all ages.
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.
Like children in other late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Canadian communities, boys in colliery towns and villages worked.
More than a century after the Klondike gold rush, a new treasure is revealed — the diary of a prospector.
As the HBC’s 350th anniversary approaches, we invite readers to share their memories of North America’s oldest company.
The Beaver has used its pages to get the most out of its people.