Efficiency and economy : Commissioner C. C. Chipman and the Hudson's Bay Company, 1891-1911

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Nigol, Paul C.
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This thesis is a narrative account of the modernization and diversification of the Hudson's Bay Company during the years leading up to the Great War and during the tenure of Clarence C. Chipman as Commissioner of the Company's Canadian Operations. It explores the condition of the Company's business and the efforts of the management to place it on a more stable footing in all of its three branches which included the Land Department, Fur Trade and Saleshop Department. The Introduction develops the context of Canadian business at the turn of the century as well as providing a brief bibliography of some of the major works that have been published dealing with the Company during this time period. As well, a biography of C.C. Chipman is provided to explicate the Company's decision to place him in charge of the entire operation in Canada for twenty years. Chapters two to four are organized thematically dealing with the Company's various departments individually and chronologically. Since each department required different management methods and employees, a thematic method was useful in outlining Chipman's involvement in developing a viable business in each of the Company's branches and bringing modern business practices to the traditional Company of Adventurers Trading into Hudson Bay. Chipman's influence was felt in varying degrees in each department. The Fur Trade, which had been diminishing in importance to the Company in the years leading up to Chipman's tenure, continued to show poor returns in comparison to the Land Department. These are dealt with in Chapter 2 and Chapter 4 respectively. The Saleshop Department, or Chapter 3, delineates how Chipman proved to be instrumental in developing a large department store chain across the prairies and on to the west coast. The final chapter deals with what Chipman contributed to the management of the Company and why the Company's London Board decided to decentralize its operations and fire Chipman in 1911. Throughout this thesis, the Company and Chipman are dealt with in the context of developing a modern and competitive business in an age of extreme competition.