Credit: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group/UIG via Getty Images

Historical Insights Selling of Rupert’s Land

The original Hudson’s Bay Company charter from King Charles II in 1670 gave the company exclusive rights in Rupert’s Land. 1874. Credit: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group/UIG via Getty Images

Selling of Rupert’s Land

Until it was sold to Canada in 1869, Rupert’s Land was basically a profitable playground for the Hudson’s Bay Company.

For nearly 200 years, Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) had a monopoly charter over the area known as Rupert’s Land, giving them private access to its bounty. Rupert’s Land encompassed one-third of what is now Canada and was used primarily for fur trapping and trade. However, with European settlers moving in by the thousands, it became clear that the HBC could no longer administer this large area. The company estimated that the 3.9-million square kilometres of land was worth around $40 million, a sum the newly formed country of Canada could never afford. However, the United States could. The British government, alarmed by the prospect of further U.S. expansion, pressured Hudson’s Bay Company to sell Rupert’s Land to Canada instead for the low price of $1.5 million in 1869. The purchase resulted in seven treaties between Canada and the indigenous peoples of Rupert’s Land to finally consent to Canadian rule.