On today’s date in 1820, Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) fur trader George Simpson was appointed associate governor of Rupert’s Land, a former territory of British North America.
In 1928, Simpson – a prominent figure in the development of Canada’s fur trade – was featured on the obverse of an Elkington and Co. medal. The medal commemorated the 100th anniversary of Simpson’s voyage from York Factory, an HBC trading post in northeastern Manitoba, to Fort St. James, B.C. in 1828.
Simpson would eventually rise to governor of the HBC during the height of its power in Canada. Born in Scotland in 1787, he would first move to London before eventually settling in present-day Canada, where he rose up through early Canadian society as a fur trader.
Fur trading influenced Canada’s development incredibly by allowing the nation to spread west and north, with the beginnings and eventual rise of the Métis and the initial interactions between First Nations and European settlers.
Simpson also received a Beaver Club medal in 1820 – one year before the amalgamation of the North West Company and the HBC – in honour of his membership in the club. The club’s motto, “Fortitude in Distress”, is engraved on the reverse of the medal about six men in a canoe. The legend reads “George Simpson/1820”. The front side depicts a beaver gnawing a tree and below a banner with the words “Industry and Perseverance”. The legend reads “Beaver Club instituted Montreal/1785”. Members were required to wear their medals at meetings and special occasions.