General FAQ
When was Hudson’s Bay Company founded?

HBC was founded on May 2, 1670, with the granting of the Royal Charter by King Charles II to “The Governor and Company of Adventurers Trading into Hudson Bay.”

Is HBC the world’s oldest company?

No. There are many companies that have been operating for longer than HBC. However, Hudson’s Bay Company is North America’s oldest company.

What does your motto “Pro Pelle Cutem” mean?

The Latin motto, found on the HBC coat of arms is Pro Pelle Cutem, which translates roughly as "for the pelt, the skin". It has often been loosely translated as “a skin for a skin”. 

What role did Henry Hudson play in the founding of your company?

None. In 1610, Hudson sailed in search of the Northwest Passage before HBC was established. He is the namesake of the body of water known today as Hudson Bay.

Does the Royal Charter still exist?

Yes. The Royal Charter, which currently resides at company headquarters in downtown Toronto, consists of five pages of vellum (sheepskin) parchment, hand-lettered and embellished with elaborate calligraphy. Although certain provisions of the Royal Charter have been superseded by subsequent amendments, legally, it remains the founding document of HBC’s existence as a corporate body. Learn more about the history of the Royal Charter here.

How can I get a copy of your Annual Report?

In 2020, HBC became a private company and therefore does not produce public annual reports. You can find HBC’s previously issued public documents online at SEDAR.

Does HBC still buy and sell raw fur?

No. In 1987, HBC sold off its Northern Store Division, which was the home of the fur trade business. By so doing, HBC ceased purchasing raw fur. In 2020, the Company made the decision to stop selling real fur products, and was officially fur-free by March 2021.

One of my ancestors used to work for HBC. Can you give me any information about him/her?

Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, Archive of Manitoba (HBCA) in Winnipeg maintains records about people who worked during the fur trade, and is the best resource for this type of research. Descriptions of HBCA’s holdings and some digitized records are available through the Keystone Database on the Archives of Manitoba website. Biographical sheets compiled by archives staff for various HBC employees have also been made available online. Should you wish to contact the Archives, please provide them any information you have about your ancestor, including his/her name, approximate dates when he/she was involved with the Company, and where he/she might have been living.

HBCA can be contacted at:

Telephone: 204-945-4949
Fax: 204-946-3236

I have an item with the Hudson’s Bay Company (or HBC) name on it. Can you tell me anything about it?

Over the years, HBC has sold all manner of objects under its name — among them, sewing machines, golf clubs, china, tea, coffee, liquor, medicine, furniture, toys, and apparel.  While the HBC Corporate Collection includes some records of the products sold by the Company, those with HBC-branded items are encouraged to contact the Heritage department directly with specific questions.

Regarding the value of an item, HBC Heritage DOES NOT advise and indeed relies on the expertise of a professional appraiser. Should you wish to learn about the value of an item, it is suggested you contact an appraisal service directly. HBC Heritage does not provide recommendations for specific appraisal service providers.

What is the difference between Hudson’s Bay and Hudson’s Bay Company?

Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) is the parent company of Hudson’s Bay. HBC has multiple banners in North America, including Hudson’s Bay, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Saks OFF 5TH. 

Where was the first HBC department store? When did it open?

HBC’s earliest retail operations were in western Canada, and evolved naturally in places where fur trade posts already existed. Starting in 1910, HBC embarked on a major expansion and renovation of its retail operations. The Calgary department store at the corner of 7th Avenue SW and 1st Street was the first of the modern HBC department stores to be built, opening on August 18, 1913. Learn more about the Calgary Store here.

I am looking for old photographs of Hudson’s Bay Company. Can you help me?

HBC Heritage maintains an extensive collection of images as part of our Corporate Collection. Our collection is primarily of HBC’s retail business and also includes photographs of acquired companies (The Robert Simpson Company, Zellers, Morgans, Woodwards etc.). The collection can be discovered throughout this website as well as on the HBC Heritage Twitter and Instagram feeds.

Historical imagery of HBC can also be found at Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, Archives of Manitoba. Many images are digitized through their online Keystone Database. 

What is meant by the term “Made Beaver”?

A Made Beaver (MB )was a unit of accounting.  representing the estimated value of an adult beaver pelt in prime condition—— on the London market. All trade goods were priced in terms of Made Beaver. Made Beaver tokens were also made and eventually beaver pelts themselves were valued relative to Made Beaver tokens so that, for example, several beaver pelts could be valued at one MB token. Made of brass, tokens could come in several denominations: 1 MB, ½ MB, ¼ MB, ⅛ MB and were stamped with the company’s coat of arms.  

Point Blanket FAQ
What are points and what do they mean?

Points are the short lines woven into the side of each blanket just above the bottom bar or set of stripes. They are about 10 centimetres (4 inches) in length, unless they are half points, in which case they are 5 centimetres (2 inches) in length. The “point” system was invented by French weavers in the mid-18th century as a means of indicating the finished size (area) of a blanket, not its value in terms of beaver pelts, as is sometimes believed. The word point derives from the French empointer, meaning “to make threaded stitches on cloth.” HBC’s first pointed blankets were made in 1780, although we had been selling unpointed blankets since our founding in 1670.

The sizes of blankets have shifted over time, particularly during the 20th century as beds became larger. Blankets of 2.5, 3, 3.5, and 4 points were most common during the fur trade era. Today, Hudson’s Bay offers blankets in the following sizes: 3.5 (Twin), 4 (Double), 6 (Queen), and 8 (King).

What do the colours of the stripes mean?

There is no intentional meaning behind the coloured stripes. The four traditional colours (green, red, yellow, and indigo) were simply colours that were popular and easily produced using good colourfast dyes when the multistripe blanket was introduced around 1800. These four colours have sometimes been called Queen Anne’s colours, since they first became popular during her reign (1702–1714).

The earliest reference to the multistripe pattern is from a 1798 order from the London headquarters to Thomas Empson of Witney, Oxfordshire for “30 pairs of 3 points to be striped with four colours (red, blue, green, yellow) according to your judgment.” The modern order of the stripes — green, red, yellow, and indigo — was not standardized until the mid-to-late 19th century.


Where are Point Blankets made today?

Hudson’s Bay Point Blankets are made in England at A.W. Hainsworth & Sons Ltd.

How can I determine the age of my blanket?

The blanket label is the best tool to date a blanket: its colour, size, colour of thread, text, and layout of the text all provide useful information regarding the date of manufacture. The colour and size of the blanket can also give an indication of the manufacturing year.

Author and Hudson’s Bay Point Blanket collector Harold Tichenor has published a guide for collectors, which outlines a few guidelines:

●      Early labels were usually red on white and fairly consistent in size, being roughly 4 x 6 centimetres (1.5 x 2.5 inches).

●      By the 1940s, the label size had changed to about 9 x 7.5 centimetres (3.5 x 3 inches).

●      Bilingual labels were introduced in 1970.

●      6-point (Queen-size) blankets were introduced in the mid- to late 1960s.

●      8-point (King-size) blankets were introduced in the mid- to late 1980s.

●      Use of the text ALL WOOL was discontinued by 1950.

●      Use of the text 100% WOOL began in 1950.


●      The U.S. Registration No. 220747 was first issued in 1926.


I have an old Hudson’s Bay Point Blanket. Is it valuable?

HBC Heritage does not advise on the value of any item and, indeed, relies on experts to provide valuation services. Questions about the value of an item should be directed to a professional appraiser. 

Can I wash my blanket? How should I take care of it?

Hudson’s Bay recommends only dry cleaning for HBC Point Blankets.

My blanket has four sets of stripes and is twice as long as it should be. Is this a mistake?

No. That is called an “unseparated pair” of Hudson’s Bay Point Blankets, a doubly long blanket that has not been separated into two singles. Blankets are woven on long continuous rolls of about 25 pairs (50 singles) to a bolt. Until the 1970s, they were separated into pairs by the manufacturer and packaged and shipped as pairs. They were separated only at the point of sale. A small nick or cut in the selvage of the blankets was made, and the blankets were literally torn apart along the grain. They were also priced “by the pair” until the late 1950s or early 1960s. Unseparated pairs were particularly useful for campers and other outdoors people. By folding the pair in half, a simple sleeping bag was created. Today, all blankets are separated and packaged as singles during the manufacturing process.

I live in outside of Canada. Where can I purchase Hudson’s Bay Point Blankets?

At this time, Hudson's Bay blankets are only available for purchase in Canada at Hudson’s Bay stores or

How long has Hudson’s Bay Company been selling blankets?

Blankets were already well established as a popular trade item when HBC set off on its first trading expedition into Hudson’s Bay. Europeans interested in obtaining furs had to contend with an Indigenous “buyer’s market” made up of demanding customers that had become experts in the quality of textiles. French blankets were initially obtained by HBC to meet Indigenous demand. Eventually, British mills began producing their own blankets and cloth based on French products, but at a lower cost. In 1779, Germain Maugenest, a French trader and merchant, joined HBC and recommended the Company stock pointed blankets. By December of that year, sample blankets were received by the London Committee, and an order was issued for 500 pairs of “pointed” blankets, 100 pairs each in 1-, 1.5-, 2-, 2.5-, and 3-point sizes.- Learn more about the history of HBC Point Blankets here

What is a capote?

The capote — a wrap coat made from a Hudson’s Bay Point Blanket — was a common garment among Indigenous Peoples and traders throughout the fur trade and is perhaps the earliest iteration of the HBC Point Blanket coat. The Métis style is perhaps the best known. Hooded, embellished with fringing, and closed with a bright Assomption sash, the coat became a staple for HBC’s explorers and traders. Learn more about the capote here.

I have heard that HBC sent blankets infested with smallpox to infect First Nations. Is there any truth to this story?

Although there is no documented evidence that HBC used blankets to intentionally infect Indigenous Peoples with smallpox, there is no question that the presence of HBC in North America, fur trade networks, and the boat brigades that travelled through them, contributed to the spread of disease. Waves of epidemics were devastating on Indigenous Peoples, families, communities, as well as on their cultural, political and economic structures. HBC attempted to provide medical care and assistance to the sick, and put in place preventative measures to stop infectious diseases, the most successful being a vaccination campaign during the smallpox epidemic of the 1830s. It was to the Company’s benefit to put these measures in place, as those affected were both essential suppliers and customers. These strategies, however, could not begin to counter the overall impact of disease on Indigenous populations in North America.

Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) · Copyright 2016, All Rights Reserved.