Yesterday, May 2, the Hudson's Bay Company celebrated its 340th birthday.
Unless we are fur-trade historians (which I actually was once), most of us think department store when we think HBC. Which is fair enough. Those iconic stone edifices, like the ones in downtown Vancouver and Victoria, were as central to the development of Canadian cities as the original trading posts.
The first HBC store in Vancouver was located on Cordova Street in Gastown. It opened in 1887 when the city was less than a year old. The present store on Georgia Street traces its origins back to 1893 when the company built a new, red-brick building at Granville and Georgia. Just before World War One, a new stone store opened behind the brick one at Granville and Seymour. Then, over the years, additions and replacements were made until in 1949 the store reached its present footprint.
In Victoria, of course, the HBC goes right back to the establishment of Fort Victoria in 1843. Construction of the department store on Douglas Street, an almost identical twin to the Vancouver store, began in 1913 but it was delayed by the war and did not open until 1921.
For a detailed history of the company, and the department stores, visit the HBC website here.