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North West Company (Canada)

Last modified: 2014-02-16 by rob raeside
Keywords: canada | north west company |
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[North West Company flag] image by Martin Grieve and Luc Baronian

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Founded in 1779 in Montreal, the North West Company was in the fur-trading business in the Canadian (or British North American) North-West. In 1821, it merged with its main competitor, the Hudson Bay Company. In 1987, the Northern Stores Division was acquired by a group of investors including 415 employees and the new entity took back its historical name. The North West Company now has 181 retail outlets, located across northern Canada (British Columbia, the Yukon Territory, the Northwest Territories, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nunavut, Quebec and Labrador), as well as owning 24 AC Value Centers and one AC Quickstop in Alaska.

Historical flag of the North West Company: a British red ensign with the initials of the company in white letters in the fly. Similar to the flag of the Hudson Bay Company.
Luc Baronian, 23 April 2004

The flag was from Flags of the Métis by Calvin Racette.

Whether Racette based it on an actual photo or simply from a written description, is not known.
Luc Baronian, 16 April 2009

The Flag Institute Library has a letter from the Hudson's Bay Company to the late Louis Loynes, dated 1966. At his request, they had done a search through their archives for material on the flag of the North West Fur Company.

They quote a letter from two Hudson's Bay men, dated 23rd August 1804, George Gladman, Sr. and Captain Henry Hanwell, Sr, who described the flag flying at Fort St Andrew, Charlton Island in the James Bay. Gladman described it as a 'large red ensign flying with the letter N W Co. in white near the Union corner'. Hanwell described the same flag as a 'Red Ensign flying on shore with the letters N.W.Co. in the fly of it'.

So - same flag, two different descriptions! With points between N and W, and W and Co., or without? Near the Union, or in the fly?
Ian Sumner, 16 April 2009