Rupert's Land, or Prince Rupert's Land, was a territory in British North America, consisting mostly of the Hudson Bay drainage basin that was nominally owned by the Hudson's Bay Company for 200 years from 1670 to 1870, although numerous aboriginal groups lived in the same territory and disputed the sovereignty of the area. The area once known as Rupert's Land is now mainly a part of Canada, but a small portion is now in the United States of America. It was named after Prince Rupert of the Rhine, a nephew of Charles I and the first Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company. In December 1821 the HBC monopoly was extended from Rupert's Land to the Pacific coast.
Areas once belonging to Rupert's Land include all of Manitoba, most of Saskatchewan, southern Alberta, southern Nunavut, and northern parts of Ontario and Quebec, as well as parts of Minnesota and North Dakota and very small parts of Montana and South Dakota.
Fur trade 
In 1670, the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) was granted a charter by King Charles II, giving it a trading monopoly over the watershed of all rivers and streams flowing into Hudson Bay, thereby making the HBC owners of the whole of Rupert's Land (named in honour of Prince Rupert of the Rhine, the king's cousin and the company's first governor). This covered an area of 3.9 million square kilometres (1.5 million sq mi), over one-third the area of Canada today.
The Hudson's Bay Company dominated trade in Rupert's Land during the 18th–19th centuries and drew on the local population for many of its employees. This necessarily meant the hiring of many indigenous and Métis workers. Fuchs (2002) discusses the activities of these workers and the changing attitudes that the company had toward them. George Simpson, one of the most noted company administrators, held a particularly dim view of mixed-blood workers and kept them from attaining positions in the company higher than postmaster. Later administrators, such as James Anderson and Donald Ross, sought avenues for the advancement of indigenous employees.
Morton (1962) reviews the pressures at work on that part of Rupert's Land where Winnipeg now stands, a decade before its incorporation into Canada. It was a region completely given over to the fur trade, divided between the Hudson's Bay Company and private traders, with some incursions by the rival North West Company based in Montreal. There was strong business and political agitation in Upper Canada for annexing the territory; in London the Company's trading license was due for review; in St. Paul there was a growing interest in the area as a field for U.S. expansion. The great commercial depression of 1857 dampened most of the outside interests in the territory, which itself remained comparatively prosperous.
Baker (1999) uses the Red River Colony in the "District of Assiniboia" south of Lake Winnipeg, the only non-native settlement on the Canadian Prairies for most of the 19th century, as a site for critical exploration of the meaning of "law and order" on the Canadian frontier and for an investigation of the sources from which legal history might be rewritten as the history of legal culture. Previous historians have assumed that the Hudson's Bay Company's representatives designed and implemented a local legal system dedicated instrumentally to the protection of the company's fur trade monopoly and, more generally, to strict control of settlement life in the company's interests. But this view is not borne out by archival research. Examination of Assiniboia's juridical institutions in action reveals a history formed less through the imposition of authority from above than by obtaining support from below. Baker shows that the legal history of the Red River Colony – and, by extension, of the Canadian West in general – is based on British common law.
Following the forced merger of the North West Company with the HBC in 1821, British Parliament applied the laws of Upper Canada to Rupert's Land and the Columbia District and gave enforcement power to the HBC. The Hudson's Bay Company maintained peace in Rupert's Land for the benefit of the fur trade; the Plains Indians had achieved a rough balance of power between themselves; the organization of the Métis provided internal security and a degree of external protection. This stable order broke down in the 1860s with the decline of the Hudson's Bay Company, the arrival of smallpox and trade-whiskey, and the disappearance of the bison. Anarchy was prevented by the creation of the North-West Mounted Police. But the basic need was for capital to convert to a farming economy and this did not come until the railway opened the area to settlers.
Peake (1989) describes people, places, and activities that were involved in 19th-century Anglican missionary activities in the prairie areas of Rupert's Land, that huge portion of Canada controlled by the Hudson's Bay Company and inhabited by few Europeans. Early in the century, fur trade competition forced the company to expand into this interior region, and some officials saw advantages in allowing missionaries to accompany them. Officially they did not discriminate among denominations, but preference was often granted to the Anglicans of the Britain-based Church Missionary Society. The prairie missions extended from the area of 20th-century Winnipeg to the Mackenzie River delta in the north. Notable missionaries included David Anderson, the first bishop, the inept William Bompas, and Robert McDonald, a part-native and very effective missionary.
There were also Roman Catholic missions in Rupert's Land. One notable missionary was Alexandre-Antonin Taché, who both before and after his consecration as bishop worked as a missionary in Saint-Boniface, Île-à-la-Crosse, Fort Chipewyan and Fort Smith.
Sale to Canada 
In 1869–1870, the Hudson's Bay Company sold most of Rupert's Land, as well as the North-Western Territory, to the newly formed Canadian Government, pursuant to the Rupert's Land Act 1868. This is the largest purchase of land in Canada's history. Control was originally planned to be transferred on December 1, 1869, but due to setbacks caused by the Red River Rebellion, the government assumed control on July 15, 1870. Canada then created the Province of Manitoba and the Northwest Territories from Rupert's Land and the former North-Western Territory, which comprised the regions northwest of Rupert's Land and to the north of the Colony of British Columbia.
The transaction was actually three-cornered. On November 19, 1869, the Company surrendered its claim to the lands under its letters patent back to the British Crown, which was authorised to accept the lands by the Rupert's Land Act. By Order-in-Council dated June 23, 1870, the British government admitted the territory to Canada, under s. 146 of the Constitution Act, 1867, effective July 15, 1870. The Government of Canada then paid the Hudson's Bay Company for the lands, on the terms set out in the Order-in-Council.
See also 
- 49th parallel north
- British Arctic Territories
- Former colonies and territories in Canada
- Hudson's Bay Company
- Hudson's Bay Company Archives
- Canadian Confederation
- The Canadas
- Columbia District
- Royal eponyms in Canada
- Denise Fuchs, Embattled Notions: Constructions of Rupert's Land's Native Sons, 1760 To 1861. Manitoba History 2002–03 (44): 10–17. 0226–5044
- W. L. Morton, "Red River on the Eve of Change, 1857 to 1859." Beaver 1962 293 (Autumn): 47–51. 0005-7517
- H. Robert Baker, "Creating Order In The Wilderness: Transplanting the English Law to Rupert's Land, 1835–51." Law and History Review 1999 17(2): 209–246. 0738–2480
- Irene M. Spry, "The Transition from a Nomadic to a Settled Economy in Western Canada, 1856–1896." Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada 1968 6 (4): 187–201.
- Peake, Frank A. (1989). "From the Red River to the Arctic: Essays on Anglican Missionary Expansion in the Nineteenth Century". Journal of the Canadian Church Historical Society 31 (2): 1–171. ISSN 0008-3208.
- Alexandre-Antonin Taché at The Catholic Encyclopedia.
- Rupert's Land and North-Western Territory Order
- Constitution Act, 1867, s. 146.
- Cory Toth - Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan (2011-02-04). "The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan | Details". Esask.uregina.ca. Retrieved 2011-02-25.
- Rupert's Land and North-Western Territory Order
Further reading 
- Ens, Gerhard John; John Elgin Foster, R. C. Macleod (2001), From Rupert's Land to Canada, University of Alberta Press, ISBN 0-88864-363-2
- Grant, Cuthbert, (1990) The English River Book: A North West Company Journal and Account Book of 1786. (Record Society Series.) McGill-Queen's U. (Primary source)
- Davis, Richard Clarke; Richard I. Ruggles (1988). Rupert's Land A Cultural Tapestry. Waterloo, ON, Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. ISBN 0-88920-976-6.
- Gillespie, Greg (2007). Hunting for Empire Narrative of Sport in Rupert's Land, 1840–70. Vancouver, BC, Canada: UBC Press. ISBN 978-0-7748-1354-9.
- Hudson's Bay Company. An Ordinance for the More Effectual Administration of Justice, In the Colony of Rupertsland. London: J. Brettell.
- Stubbs, Roy St. George (1967). Four Recorders of Rupert's Land; A Brief Survey of the Hudson's Bay Company Courts of Rupert's Land. Winnipeg, MB, Canada: Peguis Publishers.
- Tucker, S. (1851). The Rainbow in the North A Short Account of the First Establishment of Christianity in Rupert's Land. London: J. Nisbet and Co.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Rupert's Land|
- The Centre for Rupert's Land Studies - The University of Winnipeg