Merchant Princes Company of Adventurers Volume III

NEWMAN, Peter C.

Published by Toronto, Viking, 1991. 1st Edition
ISBN 10: 067084098X / ISBN 13: 9780670840984
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Hardcover, slight shelf back jacket, prev owner, map endpapers, b/w photos, maps, appendix, illus. credits, index, 450pp. 436pp many photos & ills. The Story of The Hudson's Bay Company. Vol. II. Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis: This book draws the author's "Hudson's Bay" saga to its conclusion. Here, the great fur-trading enterprise expands from its original western Canadian base to "conquer" the Arctic, leaving its influence on Inuit culture and lifestyle. How different would Canada's northern territories be now, had there been no Hudson's Bay Company to transform them from a hunting culture into a trapping and trading one? Peter Newman details the life and times of one of the Hudson's Bay Company's great governors, Donald Smith (he served for a record 44 years), who became one of his generation's leading business powers, concurrently heading the Bank of Montreal, and being the dominant financier behind the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. During World War I, the Hudson's Bay Company acquired the world's third-largest merchant ship fleet which enabled them to undertake secret missions for Winston Churchill and the Allies during World War II. The author reveals the extent of the boardroom backstabbing and conflicts of the 1970s when the Company was involved in a controversial takeover by Toronto billionaire Ken Thomson. The author's history of the Hudson's Bay Company began with "Company of Adventurers" and continued with "Caesars of the Wilderness".

From Kirkus Reviews: The final volume in Newman's three-part engrossing and epic record (1985, 1987) of how the Hudson's Bay Co. helped shape Canadian history as a royally chartered (in 1670) instrument of British empire. Here, Newman covers the 120-odd years through mid- 1991, during which HBC devolved into the Dominion's largest department-store chain. As before, the author again focuses on larger-than-life personalities who played major roles in the corporate drama. Among them are the rascally, self-serving Donald Alexander Smith, a longtime governor of HBC, as well as Kenneth (Lord) Thomson, the miserly heir to a newspaper/petroleum fortune who gained control of ``The Bay'' (as it's known up north) in 1979. Between the polar- opposite regimes of these two, Newman tracks HBC's expansion into the Arctic, the subsequent decline of the mainstay fur trade, and the boardroom battles that resulted in the shift of HBC's legal domicile from London to Winnipeg on the 300th anniversary of its founding. Along the way, he offers a wealth of anecdotal detail on The Bay's abortive involvements in filmmaking (37 features), wartime shipping (110 vessels sunk by German subs), bootlegging, and allied ventures that yielded few returns for investors. But despite its proving less than a financial success for backers over the years, HBC, Newman insists, has contributed immeasurably to the making of Canada's character--for instance, in the way the company's hinterland outposts established enduring commercial ties with the aboriginal inhabitants, stressing collective survival. By contrast, the author argues, fiercely independent individuals with little sense of community conquered America's frontier with shot and shell, slaughtering Indians for their furs or just to ``watch 'em spin.'' Newman concludes that the HBC has suffered irretrievable loss from the Faustian survival bargain that obliged it to exchange a many-splendored heritage for a mess of merchandising pottage. Absorbing and praiseworthy. The elegantly written text is profusely illustrated. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Title: Merchant Princes Company of Adventurers ...
Publisher: Toronto, Viking, 1991. 1st Edition

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