Introduction and From Fur Trade to Retail Stores

The Hudson's Bay Company had a network of "saleshops" throughout Western Canada when it published its first mail-order catalogue in 1896. In 1913, the catalogue was discontinued because it could not compete with Eaton's and Simpson's. However, the Hudson's Bay Company continued to provide a "personal shopper" service, published individual store catalogues in the 1920s, and introduced the northern stores catalogue office in the 1930s.

From Fur Trade to Retail Stores

The Hudson's Bay Company is the oldest retailer in Canada, having received its charter in 1670. Much has been written about the colourful history of the company's fur trade, but considerably less attention has been paid to its retail operations.

Early fur trade posts evolved into retail stores in developing urban centres. The Hudson's Bay Company had 26 saleshops throughout the Northwest when it introduced its first mail-order catalogue in 1896. Most of these were fur trade posts that now sold goods to settlers, but they were the beginnings of retail stores nonetheless. The six largest original stores were in Winnipeg (1881), Calgary (1884), Vancouver (1887), Edmonton (1892), Victoria (1921), and Saskatoon (1922).
by Catherine C. Cole

© Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation

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