Emperor of the North

James Raffan

Published by HarperCollins Publishers, 2008
ISBN 10: 0006394876 / ISBN 13: 9780006394877
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The histories of Sir George Simpson and the Hudson's Bay Company are inextricably intertwined, for Simpson's business acumen and go-ahead personality would take a failing fur trading business to a position of great wealth and political power. Controlling a vast trading territory that stretched over 1/12 the world's surface, The HBC became the most significant business in 18th and 19th century Canada and shaped the nation. As its head, Sir George Simpson epitomized the self-made man of Victorian times. Raffan has captured the many contradictions of this larger-than-life figure: his shame at his illegitimate birth, yet his fathering of at least 13 children out of wedlock; his love of grandiosity, yet his ability to rough it with the voyageurs. As he ranged fearlessly across his "empire of furs," spurring his employees to even greater profits, Simpson set speed and endurance records for overland travel that have yet to be beaten. Under his ruthless, inventive and far-seeing management, the HBC became one of the greatest business empires ever and contributed to the concept of a Canadian nation stretching from sea to sea. In many respects, Simpson was a "father of Confederation" ahead of his time.

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At its height in the nineteenth century, the Hudson's Bay Company's trading territory covered three million square miles and spanned the continent. And no one person was more responsible for its success than its larger-than-life governor, the remarkable George Simpson. The illegitimate son of a ne'er-do-well Scottish lawyer, Simpson was a master planner who laid the foundations for the greatest business enterprise of its day, a pompous dandy who was most at home in a canoe, and a man who, while ashamed of his out-of-wedlock birth, sired at least thirteen children with eight different women.

A wide cast of characters strides through the pages of this gripping story—frontier entrepreneurs, hardy voyageurs, skilled native trappers, intrepid explorers, impoverished settlers, and lords and ladies of the realm—and George Simpson was at home with all of them. The history of the Bay is that of a country in the making, but it is also a history of the clash between different ways of life in a vast, sparsely populated land far from the crowded cities, counting-houses and imperial ambitions of the British Empire.

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Title: Emperor of the North
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: 2008
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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