Tel 44 (0)20 7589 4325
Fax 44 (0)20 7589 4325
Email:[email protected]



James Wyld: The British Possessions in North America and the United States with the Hudson's Bay Territories

Map: tempMid
Cartographer: James Wyld
Title: The British Possessions in North America and the United States with the Hudson's Bay Territories
Date: 1857
Published: London
Width: 26 inches / 67 cm
Height: 19 inches / 49 cm
Map ref: AMER2338
Rare folding map of North America showing the Hudson Bay Company's territories from their foundation in 1670 to their total monopoly over Canada's fur trade in the 1850s. The map also shows the evolution of the US-Canada border from 1818 to the establishment of the modern border in 1846. A key in the lower-left corner explains the map's colouring:

- [Grey] "Territory claimed by the Hudson Bay Co. under their charter of 1670". This enormous area extends all the way from Labrador to the Canadian Rockies and included the entire watershed of the Hudson Bay. This territory was named Rupert's Land after the Company's first governor.

- [Green] "Possessed by France prior to 1670... & ceded by France to England by Treaty of Utrecht 1714". France abandoned their claim to Rupert's Land at the end of the War of the Spanish Succession which gave the HBC sole control over the land granted to them by the 1670 charter.

- [Yellow shading] "Territory ceded by Great Britain to the United States by the Convention of 1818 without reserving any rights or compensation to the Hudson Bay Co." The Treaty of 1818 established the 49th parallel as the border between the United States and Canada. The Company was forced to cede two parcels of land below the 49th to the United States, but in exchange the US and Britain agreed to joint settlement of the Oregon Territory.

- [Orange shading] "Settlements of the Hudson Bay Company before the existence of the North Western Fur Company". By the 19th century the Company had established several large settlements along the coast of Hudson Bay, but most of Rupert's Land remained unsettled. In 1779 a new group of traders from Montreal formed the North West Company which hoped to exploit the unsettled lands in the west. This led to heated competition and even armed conflict between the two companies until they were forced to merge in 1821.

- [Blue] "Territory traded over by the North Western before amalgamating with the Hudson Bay Company in 1821." The blue lines show the enormous area in which the NWC traded. The areas overlapping with Rupert's Land were rife with conflict between the companies. The merger in 1821 gave the HBC control from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

- [Pink] "Territory over which the Hudson Bay Company have the exclusive right of trade for 21 years by grant May 13th, 1838...". The Company was granted a complete monopoly from 1838 to 1859.

- [Brown] "Territory ceded to the United States by Treaty of 1846". The Oregon Treaty established the modern US-Canada border, giving the US full control over the Oregon Territory to the 49th Parallel.

- [Blue shading] "Vancouvers Island granted to the Hudson Bay Company for colonization... with right of the Crown to purchase at termination of trading license in 1859." The Colony of Vancouver was established in 1849. It was leased to the HBC for an annual fee of seven shillings in return for the HBC sponsoring colonization of the island. Britain ended the lease in 1859.

This map was published at a critical moment for the Company as their 21 year monopoly was due to expire in 1859. The government had become skeptical of the Company's claim that the interior of Canada was unsuited to agriculture, so in 1857 they sent the Palliser Expedition to explore the Canadian West. Palliser advised against settlement of much of the West, but his findings dispelled the myth of uninhabitability which had underpinned the HBC monopoly.

As a specialist map, it was likely printed in very small numbers. Only three institutional examples of this map have been identified: Yale University Library, University of British Columbia Library, and the British Library.

Original hand-colour. Folded. [AMER2338]