History

Explore presents the Hudson’s Bay Company - BONUS EPISODE: Sir George Simpson

Episode 14

In this special bonus episode of Explore, canoe expert James Raffan introduces listeners to HBC Governor George Simpson and his unique style of “management by canoe”

  • May 21, 2020
Canoe Manned by Voyageurs Passing a Waterfall (Canada), by Frances Anne Hopkins, 1869. (Image: Library and Archives Canada)
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Sir George Simpson spent much of his early days as HBC Governor in a canoe, paddling to trading posts and forts, carrying out record-breaking canoe journeys across North America. It was all part of what James Raffan describes as Simpson’s “management by canoe.”

“That was a big departure for the Hudson’s Bay Company,” says Raffan. “It was a Company of Adventurers who were moving the game pieces on a board in London with very little direct connection and Simpson just turned that completely around and salvaged the [company’s] business interests.”
 
In doing so as HBC Governor from 1826 to 1860, Simpson expanded the HBC fur trading empire to include an area equivalent to 1/12th of the earth’s landmass, with trading posts as far away as Hawaii, Alaska and Oregon as well as much of what is now Canada.

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