The North West Company

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For the fur trading company, see North West Company.
North West Company Inc.
Traded as TSXNWC
Industry Grocery, Fur, General Merchandise
Founded 1987
Headquarters Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Key people
Edward S. Kennedy, President & CEO
Number of employees
6,805 [1]

The North West Company is a grocery and merchandise store in remote communities across northern Canada, Alaska and four other countries. Through its subsidiary, Cost-U-Less stores, it also operates in the US territories of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa, and in the Caribbean and Fiji.

The company traces its history back to the North West Company, a fur trading business headquartered in the city of Montreal in British North America from 1779 to 1821.[2] It was merged into the Hudson's Bay Company in 1821. The enterprise continued as the Fur Trade Department, and then the Northern Stores Division of Hudson's Bay Company. In 1987, the division was acquired by a group of investors and in the 1990s it was relaunched under the old name of the North West Company. It is now a publicly traded company and is composed mainly of the old HBC Northern Stores Division. The Alaska Commercial Company traced its roots back to the Russian American Company.

Brief history[edit]

The French controlled much of what is now Canada in the early 1700s. As a result, their traders had a large fur trading network. After the conquest of New France by the British in 1763, French traders founded the North West Company and continued expanding their fur trade into the Canadian interior. The competition with the Hudson's Bay Company led to a massive environmental impact with numerous fur trade posts being built, the interior of Canada being explored, the beaver population being exhausted and the fur trade also created conflict which increased tensions between the British, French and the Aboriginals.[3]

Current operations[edit]

Northern Store in Moosonee.
Northern Store in Fort Resolution

The North West Company operates stores under the banners of:

  • Northern (123 stores in Canada)
  • AC Value Center (129 stores in Alaska),
  • NorthMart (7 stores in Canada)
  • Quickstop (12 locations across Canada)
  • Alaska Food For Less (2 locations in Kodiak)
  • Under a master franchise agreement with Giant Tiger Stores Limited, NWC operates 31 Giant Tiger Stores in Western Canada
  • Valu Lots (1 location in Winnipeg)
  • Solo Market (1 store in British Columbia, 1 store in Pinawa, Manitoba)
  • Cost-U-Less (12 stores in Guam, Hawaii, California, US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Fiji, Netherlands Antilles and the Cayman Islands)

As of January 2004, the North West Company had 44,552 employees in Canada and 736 in Alaska, and was the largest employer of aboriginal people in the business sector. Holding to its roots, it also runs the largest Inuit art marketing service in the world and a fur marketing division.

It has its head office in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, built partly on the site of Upper Fort Garry. This building formerly served as the head office of the Hudson's Bay Company.

Link Financial Services[edit]

The Link Financial Services division operates a series of automatic teller machines (ATM) in each store, offers the Link Debit Card, Link Credit Card and Link Prepaid Visa.[4]

Further reading[edit]

  • Ahrens, Merv. Fort Lac La Pluie of the North West Company, 177?-1821. Fort Frances, Ontario: Fort Frances Times Ltd, 2006.


  1. ^ "Company Profile for North West Co Fund (CA;NWF.UN)". Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  2. ^ Official site
  3. ^ Macdowell, Laurel Sefton. "An Environmental History of Canada". University of British Columbia: UBC Press, 2012.
  4. ^ Link Financial

External links[edit]