On May 2, 1670, King Charles II of England granted a royal charter to “the Governor and Company of Adventurers of England Trading into Hudson's Bay.” The business, founded in what is today Canada, quickly became the Hudson’s Bay Company, and today is the oldest still-operating company in North America.
 
The Hudson’s Bay Company was founded by French fur trappers—unlicensed “coureurs des bois” who worked with native Cree hunters to collect lucrative beaver, deer, and ermine pelts. Unable to secure financing from French or British-American sources, they were chartered by the British government.
 
The Hudson’s Bay Company was originally given a charter for the entire Hudson Bay watershed, about 3.9 million square kilometers (1.5 million square miles). A series of forts around its namesake bay did a brisk trade in furs, beads, and utensils such as knives and kettles. In 1780, the company introduced the boldly striped “point blankets” for which it became known. By this time, the company realized its future was not in furs, but in trade itself. It quickly redefined itself as a retail supplier for Canada’s urbanizing interior.
 
Today, the Hudson’s Bay Company is a thriving retail enterprise owned by the same corporation that owns Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor.
Noun

body of water partially surrounded by land, usually with a wide mouth to a larger body of water.

brisk
Adjective

busy and quick.

business
Noun

sale of goods and services, or a place where such sales take place.

charter
Noun

document that outlines rules for how a state or other organization will be organized.

corporation
Noun

business made up of a group of stockholders, or people who own interest in the business.

coureur des bois
Noun

unlicensed, independent French-Canadian fur trapper of the 17th-18th century.

enterprise
Noun

a project, usually one seeking a profit.

fort
Noun

military outpost, area, or set of buildings.

government
Noun

system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

lucrative
Adjective

profitable or money-making.

pelt
Noun

animal skin or fur.

redefine
Verb

to identify or organize in a different manner.

retail
Adjective

having to do with the sale of finished goods to consumers.

royal
Adjective

having to do with a monarchy.

trade
Noun

buying, selling, or exchanging of goods and services.

urban
Adjective

having to do with city life.

utensil
Noun

tool or instrument for preparing or eating food.

Noun

entire river system or an area drained by a river and its tributaries.

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