Moose Factory, 1854 - lithograph
The second oldest establishment of HBC in North America, Moose Factory is the oldest settlement in the province of Ontario. Built in 1673 it is located on Factory Island approximately eleven miles from the mouth of the Moose River on the shore of James Bay. While considered a remote community by today's standards, in its time Moose was the "capital" of James Bay, being chosen the administrative headquarters of the Southern Department in 1810. The Governor of Rupert's Land and Council met frequently at Moose to discuss plans for the coming year's operations.
The post journal for July 21, 1823, records the beginning of construction of the Men's House - quarters for unmarried staff and visitors. Later this building was renamed the Clerk's House and provided accommodation for Company clerks in addition to a clerks' office and a surgery. By the 1900s this building was known as the Staff House.
HBC in northern Ontario, 1950
In 1972 the Ontario Minister of Colleges and Universities George Kerr wrote to D.H. Pitts, General Manager of the Northern Stores Division of HBC, asking that he consider the donation of the Staff House to the Province under the terms of the Ontario Heritage Foundation Act. By that time the Province had been expressing an interest in the Staff House for a half dozen years. Recognizing its historical importance Pitts was constrained only by the fact that the Staff House was still being used as originally intended - as a residence for the Company employees. It was eventually agreed that in exchange for the Staff House, HBC would receive its fair market value, which would allow for the construction of a new staff residence.
Staff house, Moose Factory, Ontario , ca. 1934
On August 10, 1978, the Staff House at Moose Factory was officially turned over to the Province of Ontario. As a result of this event, the Staff House joined Lower Fort Garry, York Factory and the Archway Building at Norway House to be preserved as a tangible reminder of HBC's legacy to the history and people of Canada. Today the Staff House is part of the Centennial Park Museum in Moose Factory.