The North West Company

The North West Company is a Canadian multinational grocery and retail company which operates stores in Canada's western provinces and northern territories, as well as the US states of Alaska, Hawaii, and several other countries and US territories in Oceania and the Caribbean.

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 as 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, which makes up The North West Company's Alaskan operations, traced its roots back to the Russian-American Company. Cost-U-Less, which operates in Hawaii, the South Pacific and the Caribbean, was acquired in 2007.[3]

The North West Company Inc.
Traded asTSXNWC
IndustryGrocery, Fur, General Merchandise
HeadquartersWinnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Key people
Edward S. Kennedy, President & CEO
Number of employees
6,805 [1]

Brief history

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, and the beaver population being exhausted. The fur trade created conflict which increased tensions between the British, French and the Aboriginals.[4]

Current operations

Moosonee Northern store
Northern Store in Moosonee, Ontario.

The North West Company's head office is located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, built partly on the site of Upper Fort Garry. This building used to serve as the head office of the Hudson's Bay Company. It also operates two offices in the United States cities of Anchorage, Alaska and Bellevue, Washington.

As of 2014, the North West Company had 4,921 employees in Canada and 1,726 employees in its international operations in Alaska, the South Pacific, and the Caribbean.[5] and was the largest employer of Aboriginal people in the business sector.

The company operates stores under these banners:[5]

Canadian operations

  • Northern (122 stores) – Northern Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Labrador, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Yukon,
  • NorthMart (6 locations across Northern Canada, excluding Yukon and in Manitoba and Labrador) – Cross Bay, Manitoba; Iqaluit, Nunavut; Goose Bay, Labrador; and Hay River & Inuvik, Northwest Territories
  • Quickstop (5 locations)
  • Giant Tiger (31 locations in Western Canada; operated under franchise from Giant Tiger Ltd.)
  • Valu Lots (1 location)
  • Solo Market (1 location)
  • North West Company Fur Marketing (2 locations)
  • Crescent Multi Foods – distributor operating in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and northern Ontario
  • Inuit Art Marketing Service
  • North Star Air – Cargo and Passenger airline based in Thunder Bay, Ontario [6]

International operations

WE Financial

WE Financial is the financial services division that operates a series of automatic teller machines (ATM) in each store, and offers the WE Credit Card and WE Prepaid Visa (jointly with Scotiabank).[7]

Further reading

  • 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 Archived 2004-12-27 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ North West Company Fund to Acquire Cost-U-Less
  4. ^ Macdowell, Laurel Sefton. "An Environmental History of Canada". University of British Columbia: UBC Press, 2012.
  5. ^ a b "The North West Company Inc. 2014 Annual Report" (PDF). The North West Company. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Link Financial

External links

1804 in Canada

Events from the year 1804 in Canada.

Alexander Mackenzie

Alexander Mackenzie commonly refers to:

Alexander Mackenzie (politician) (1822–1892), second Prime Minister of Canada

Sir Alexander Mackenzie (explorer) (1764–1820), explorer and commercial partner of the North West CompanyAlexander Mackenzie or MacKenzie may also refer to:

Alexander Mackenzie of Kintail (died after 1471), Scottish clan chief

Alexander Muir Mackenzie (1764–1835), Scottish advocate and landowner

Alexander Slidell Mackenzie (1803–1848), American naval officer involved in the "Somers Affair", and biographer

Alexander Mackenzie (historian) (1838–1898), Scottish historian

Alexander Slidell MacKenzie (1842–1867), officer in the US Navy during the American Civil War

Alexander Mackenzie (civil servant) (1842–1902), British colonial official in Burma

Alexander Mackenzie (engineer) (1844–1921), US Army Chief of Engineers

Sir Alexander Mackenzie (composer) (1847–1935), Scottish violinist, conductor, composer and head of the Royal Academy of Music in London

Alexander Marshall Mackenzie (1848–1933), Scottish architect

Alick Mackenzie (Alexander Cecil Knox Mackenzie, 1870–1947), Australian cricketer

Alexander George Robertson Mackenzie (1879–1963), Scottish architect; son of Alexander Marshall Mackenzie

Alex Mackenzie (1885–1965), Scottish character actor

Lex MacKenzie (Addison Alexander "A.A." MacKenzie, 1885–1970), Canadian politician

Alexander Mackenzie (artist) (1923–2002), St Ives school artist

Sandy Mackenzie (Alexander Mackenzie, born 1941), Australian politician

Gregor MacKenzie (Alexander David Gregor MacKenzie, born 1956), Scottish rugby player

Alexander MacKenzie (priest) (1876–1969), Provost of St Andrew's Cathedral, Inverness

Barrhead, Alberta

Barrhead is a town in central Alberta, Canada, within the County of Barrhead No. 11. It is located along the Paddle River and at the intersection of Highway 33 (Grizzly Trail) and Highway 18, approximately 120 km (75 mi) northwest of the City of Edmonton. It is also located along the route of the Express Trail, used by the North West Company. Originally a First Nations trail that was widened by George Simpson and John Rowand to save the North West Company over $5,000.The town was named after the Scottish town Barrhead, the birthplace of one of the children of the area's early settlers, James McGuire. Barrhead's official bird is the great blue heron.

Battle of Seven Oaks

The Battle of Seven Oaks was a violent confrontation in what was known as the Pemmican War between the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) and the North West Company (NWC), rivals in the fur trade, that took place on 19 June 1816. It was the climax of a long dispute in western Canada. The Métis people, who fought for the North West Company, called it "the Victory of Frog Plain" (la Victoire de la Grenouillère).

Charlton Island

Charlton Island is an uninhabited island located in James Bay, Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut, Canada. Located northwest of Rupert Bay, it has an area of 308 km2 (119 sq mi).Thomas James, who gave his name to James Bay, wintered here in 1631 and named the island after Prince Charles. The founders of Fort-Rupert (1668) must have seen it and Charles Bayly was nearly driven ashore here in 1674. Some time before 1679 Bayly proposed making Charlton Island a central depot and meeting place for the three posts around James Bay. This seems to have been done until 1685 or later. After the Hudson Bay expedition (1686) the French planned to send their prisoners there. Little is heard of the island until 1803.

About 1802 the North West Company chartered the heavily armed Eddystone and placed it under Captain Richards, a former Hudson's Bay Company man and John George McTavish, the younger brother of the Chief of Clan McTavish. In the summer of 1803 it left Montreal for Hudson Bay. At the same time a force under Angus Shaw left the Tadoussac area for James Bay. They met at Charlton Island in HBC territory and claimed the island for the NWC. They built Fort St. Andrews there and two forts at the mouths of the Moose River and Eastmain River. The purpose, in part, was to pressure the HBC into granting the NWC transit rights through Hudson Bay. What happened after that is not clear.

Columbia District

The Columbia District was a fur trading district in the Pacific Northwest region of British North America in the 19th century. Much of its territory overlapped with the disputed Oregon Country. It was explored by the North West Company between 1793 and 1811, and established as an operating fur district around 1810. The North West Company was absorbed into the Hudson's Bay Company in 1821, under which the Columbia District became known as the Columbia Department. The Oregon Treaty of 1846 marked the effective end of the Hudson's Bay Company's Columbia Department.

Connelly Range

The Connelly Range is a subrange of the Hogem Ranges of the Omineca Mountains, located between Bear Lake and the headwaters of the Omineca River in northern British Columbia, Canada. As the Omineca is in the Arctic Ocean drainage and Bear Lake that of the Pacific, the range is part of the Continental Divide. It includes a group of volcanic plugs, the largest of which is The Thumb.

The range's named derived from that of Fort Connelly, a Hudson's Bay Company outpost founded by James Douglas, later Governor of Vancouver Island and British Columbia, during his tenure with the North West Company in New Caledonia, of which Fort Connelly was at the northwestern edge of. Sources vary as to where it was, either at the outlet of the Bear Lake (i.e. at its northern end) or on an island along the eastern shore near Tsaytut Bay. The name Fort Connelly today is associated with the settlement of Bear Lake.

David Thompson (explorer)

David Thompson (30 April 1770 – 10 February 1857) was a British-Canadian fur trader, surveyor, and map-maker, known to some native peoples as Koo-Koo-Sint or "the Stargazer." Over Thompson's career, he travelled some 90,000 kilometres (56,000 mi) across North America, mapping 4.9 million square kilometres (1.9 million square miles) of North America along the way. For this historic feat, Thompson has been described as the "greatest land geographer who ever lived."

Fort Okanogan

Fort Okanogan (also spelled Fort Okanagan) was founded in 1811 on the confluence of the Okanogan and Columbia Rivers as a fur trade outpost. Originally built for John Jacob Astor’s Pacific Fur Company, it was the first American-owned settlement within Washington State, located in what is now Okanogan County. The North West Company, the PFC's primary competitor, purchased its assets and posts in 1813. In 1821 the North West Company was merged into Hudson's Bay Company, which took over operation of Fort Okanogan as part of its Columbia District. The fort was an important stop on the York Factory Express trade route to London via Hudson Bay.

In 1846, the Oregon Treaty was ratified, ending the Oregon boundary dispute and the joint-occupation of the Pacific Northwest, though the HBC was allowed to continue use of the fort. However, due to the decline of the transport business in the area, the HBC abandoned the fort in June 1860. The fur post's primary use became transportation between other HBC posts, as according to Lloyd Keith and William Brown after 1821 there was no "considerable amount of fur obtained there."The site of the fort was flooded in 1967 by the reservoir Lake Pateros due to the construction of Wells Dam.

Fort William, Ontario

Fort William was a city in Northern Ontario, located on the Kaministiquia River, at its entrance to Lake Superior. It amalgamated with Port Arthur and the townships of Neebing and McIntyre to form the city of Thunder Bay in January 1970. Since then it has been the largest city in Northwestern Ontario. The city's Latin motto was A posse ad esse (From a Possibility to an Actuality) featured on its coat of arms designed in 1900 by town officials, "On one side of the shield stands an Indian dressed in the paint and feathers of the early days; on the other side is a French voyageur; the center contains an elevator, a steamship and a locomotive, while the beaver surmounts the whole."

Francois Payette

Francois Payette (b.1793 – d. post 1844) was a North American fur trader. Born near Montreal, he began his career as a canoeman, was hired by John Jacob Astor and shipped to the Oregon Country aboard the SS Beaver, entering the mouth of the Columbia River on May 9, 1812. With the sale of Astor's Pacific Fur Company to the North West Company in 1813, Payette joined the NWC, "accompanying numerous expeditions into the interior." When the Hudson's Bay Company absorbed the North West Company in 1821, Payette transferred allegiance to the HBC. He took part in notable fur gathering-trading expeditions throughout the upper Rockies and was an occasional interpreter, sometimes second in command of brigades, and clerk.

He was stationed at old Fort Boise (near present-day Parma) for his last years with the company, retiring June 1, 1844. While in the Northwest, Payette had at least one child by a Flathead woman. The child was named Baptiste who spent the winter of 1833–1834 studying in Boston.After this, there are two known stories. The first is that he returned to Montreal, and nothing more is known of him. The second is the account of George Goodhart, who claims he died in Idaho, either in 1854 or 1855 and was buried in the area now known as Washoe, looking over the Snake and Payette rivers.

He was one of the more able and worthy HBC men in the interior of the Northwest. In southwestern Idaho, a river, county, city, and a national forest are named for him.

Canadian former astronaut Julie Payette claimed him to be an ancestor, during her inaugural speech as Governor General of Canada on October 2, 2017.

Mount Robson

Mount Robson is the most prominent mountain in North America's Rocky Mountain range; it is also the highest point in the Canadian Rockies. The mountain is located entirely within Mount Robson Provincial Park of British Columbia, and is part of the Rainbow Range. Mount Robson is the second highest peak entirely in British Columbia, behind Mount Waddington in the Coast Range. The south face of Mount Robson is clearly visible from the Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16), and is commonly photographed along this route.

Mount Robson was likely named after Colin Robertson, who worked for both the North West Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company at various times in the early 19th century, though there was confusion over the name as many assumed it to have been named for John Robson, an early premier of British Columbia. The Texqakallt, a Secwepemc people and the earliest inhabitants of the area, call it Yuh-hai-has-kun, The Mountain of the Spiral Road. Other unofficial names include Cloud Cap Mountain.

North West Company

The North West Company was a fur trading business headquartered in Montreal from 1779 to 1821. It competed with increasing success against the Hudson's Bay Company in what is present-day Western Canada. With great wealth at stake, tensions between the companies increased to the point where several minor armed skirmishes broke out, and the two companies were forced by the British government to merge.

Old Fort Providence

Old Fort Providence, located near the mouth of Yellowknife Bay, Northwest Territories, Canada, was one of the first fur trading outposts on Great Slave Lake. Peter Pond of the North West Company first proposed trading with the Dene around Great Slave Lake in 1786. In 1789, Alexander Mackenzie initiated a period of trade with the Yellowknives and Tłı̨chǫ (formerly known as Dogrib) Dene and instructed his assistant, Laurent Leroux, to start a trading post in this area. The post was not a major centre for fur trading and was used primarily as a supply centre for other, more important trading posts or expeditions. It served, for example, as a base of supply for Sir John Franklin's Coppermine expedition towards the Arctic Ocean in 1820. It was located within a productive fishery used for generations by the Dene around Yellowknife Bay and helped supply meat and fish for traders at Great Slave Lake. The Hudson's Bay Company took over the post in 1821 after the demise of the North West Company, but the settlement was in decline and it closed in 1823. The buildings have long since decayed but the ruins were excavated in 1969-1971.

Peter Pond

Peter Pond (January 18, 1739 or 1740 – 1807) was a soldier with a Connecticut Regiment, a fur trader, a founding member of the North West Company and the Beaver Club, an explorer and a cartographer. Though he was born and died in Milford, Connecticut, most of his life was spent in northwestern North America.

Peter Skene Ogden

Peter Skene Ogden (alternately Skeene, Skein or Skeen), (baptised 12 February 1790 – September 27 1854) was a fur trader and a Canadian explorer of what is now British Columbia and the American West.

Ogden was a son of Chief Justice Isaac Ogden of Quebec and his wife Sarah Hanson. The family was descended from a 17th-century British emigrant to the American colonies (Long Island and New Jersey). Both Isaac and his father David were loyalists during the American Revolution. Isaac relocated to England at this time, then later returned to British-run Quebec. One of Ogden's brothers, Charles Richard Ogden was a lawyer, politician, and public servant from Canada East. Ogden married Julia Rivet/Reava, a Meti/Nez Perce (sometimes known as Flathead or other Salish).During his many expeditions, he explored parts of Oregon, Washington, Nevada, California, Utah, Idaho and Wyoming. Despite early confrontations with the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) during his time with the North West Company, he later became a senior official in the operations of the HBC's Columbia Department, serving as manager of Fort Simpson and similar posts.

Red River Colony

The Red River Colony (or Selkirk Settlement) was a colonization project set up in 1811 by Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk on 300,000 square kilometres (120,000 sq mi) of land. This land was granted to him by the Hudson's Bay Company, which is referred to as the Selkirk Concession. The establishment of Canada in the late 19th century led to the creation of what is today Manitoba, although much of its original territory is now part of the United States.

The Selkirk Concession, also known as Selkirk's Grant, included the portions of Rupert's Land, or the watershed of Hudson Bay, bounded on the north by the line of 52° N latitude roughly from the Assiniboine River east to Lake Winnipegosis. It then formed a line of 52°30′ N latitude from Lake Winnipegosis to Lake Winnipeg, and by the Winnipeg River, Lake of the Woods and Rainy River. On the west of the Selkirk Concession, it is roughly formed by the current boundary between Saskatchewan and Manitoba. These covered portions consist of present-day southern Manitoba, northern Minnesota, and eastern North Dakota, in addition to small parts of eastern Saskatchewan, northwestern Ontario, and northeastern South Dakota.

Snake River Fur Post

The Snake River Fur Post is a reconstructed fur trade post on the Snake River west of Pine City, Minnesota, United States of America. The post was established in the fall of 1804 by John Sayer, a partner in the North West Company, and built by his crew of voyageurs. The site operated for several years, although its exact period of operation is unknown. It was later destroyed by fire.The discovery of artifacts in the 1930s revealed the site. Excavation in the 1960s added to knowledge about it, enabling accurate reconstruction of the post. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is operated as a state historic site.

Willamette Trading Post

The Willamette Trading Post or Willamette Fur Post was a fur trade facility owned by the North West Company established near the Willamette River in what would become the French Prairie in Oregon Country. Established around 1813 in what is now the state of Oregon in the United States, the post was a small fur station where trappers working in the Willamette Valley could exchange their pelts and hides for other trade goods.

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