A Corporate Christianity: Religion and the Early Modern Hudson’s Bay Company
The early modern Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) built a form of Christianity that was decidedly corporate in its design. Unlike the way Catholicism in the French fur trade was deployed to achieve imperial as well as commercial ends, Christianity in the HBC was positioned exclusively with commerce in mind. This meant it was used not to colonize Indigenous cultures or spaces but to control and protect the company’s overseas resources and support corporate relations in London. Even when this use changed in the early 1800s as baptism and religious education were offered to mixed-ancestry children of company men, the corporate agenda remained at the heart of the company’s use of religion. The history of religion in the early modern HBC underlines that the company’s identity and aspirations at this time were commercial rather than imperial.