The Hudson's Bay Company is the oldest corporation in Canada and is one of the oldest in the world. It was formed as an English corporation on May 2 1670 and was given a Royal Charter by King Charles II. The Charter granted it a monopoly over trade in the region watered by all rivers and streams flowing into Hudson Bay in northern Canada (an area known as Rupert's Land). This region constitutes 1.5 million square miles, over one third the area of modern day Canada.
In 1821, the North West Company of Montréal and the Hudson's Bay Company merged, with a combined territory that was extended by a license to the Arctic Ocean on the north and the Pacific Ocean on the west. In 1870 the trade monopoly was abolished and trade in the region was opened to any entrepreneur. The company also lost its ownership of Rupert's Land.
The company continues today with department stores named The Bay. Many Hudson's Bay Company stores were until quite recently the only stores in remote towns.
see also East India Company