XY Company (New North West Co), named after the marks used to distinguish its bales of goods from those of the NORTH WEST COMPANY
, was a product of conflicts between NWC agents (led by Simon MCTAVISH
) and NWC winterers, following the company's reorganization in 1795. In 1797-98, Montréal partners who did not join the 1795 agreement became a focal point for uncommitted or alienated winterers, and in 1798 they fielded an opposition that reached as far as Athabasca. In 1800 Alexander MACKENZIE
joined the new concern, which then became popularly known as "Alexander Mackenzie & Co." Rivalry became intense and costly. The use of liquor in the trade rose sharply; more employees were needed and were able to sue for higher wages in both firms. When McTavish's death in July 1804 removed a focus of personal hostilities and disaffection, the NWC and XYC negotiated a coalition. Their agreement of 5 Nov 1804 created a newly powerful and monopolistic NWC of 100 shares, 75 to be held by the old Nor'Westers and 25 by the former XYC partners.
His pre-eminent position in the Montréal business community and his sense of style earned him the nickname "the Marquis" (courtesy Library and Archives Canada/C-164).
JENNIFER S.H. BROWN