The Hudson's Bay Company Archives (HBCA) are thousands of mainly hand-written records and maps of the Hudson's Bay Company employees for hundreds of years. This important archive is one of Canada's national treasures, and is a part of the United NationsMemory of the World project. The purchase of Rupert's Land from the Hudson Bay Company is the largest land purchase in Canada's history.
The Hudson's Bay Company's records provide the original written history of the HBC since its inception in 1670 by Prince Rupert and others. Henry Hudson was the first European to explore and map the shores of the great bay. The first Hudson's Bay Company trading forts were built along the southern shores of Hudson Bay to provide the shortest trade route to Europe from the middle of North America. Rupert's Land consisted of the vast watershed of rivers that drained into Hudson Bay which gave access to the far western and central parts of North America. The abundance of archival documents provide the original written history of the fur trade, North American exploration and mapping, native peoples, treaty making, and the original development of the Nation of Canada. The thousands of documents supply important knowledge about the growth of the HBC's retail empire that led to one of the largest land purchases in world history, along with the original settlements of Western Canada. The archives protect the original written documents that detail the European exploration and settlement of the western frontier. Many of these documents provide detailed descriptions of native groups, forts, rivers, lakes, animals, populations, and the difficult working conditions of fur traders.
The Hudson's Bay Company Archives makes the records available and accessible to many people locally, nationally, and internationally. Their database can be searched online, and some documents are now available online.