On 2 May 1670 Charles II of England granted to the HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY a large portion of North America, named Rupert's Land in honour of Prince Rupert, the king's cousin and the company's first governor. This grant comprised the entire HUDSON BAY drainage system, which in modern geographical terms included northern Québec and Ontario north of the Laurentian watershed, all of Manitoba, most of Saskatchewan, southern Alberta and a portion of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. The company was to have a monopoly and complete control of the territory.

The HBC first established FUR TRADE posts around James and Hudson bays. In 1774 Samuel HEARNE established the first western inland post at CUMBERLAND HOUSE [Sask]. By 1870 there were 97 posts within the territory. HBC fur traders were responsible for many early travels, explorations and cartography in Rupert's Land.

By the 1850s the Canadian movement to annex Rupert's Land was gaining momentum, and provision was made in the BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT for its admission into Canada. On 19 November 1869 the company signed and sealed the deed of transfer surrendering its chartered territory to the Crown and the governments of Great Britain and Canada set the date of transfer for 1 December 1869.

Owing to the RED RIVER REBELLION, the date of transfer did not become effective until 15 July 1870. In exchange for Rupert's Land, the HBC received £300 000, certain land around its posts, and eventually some 2.8 million ha of farmland in what are today the Prairie provinces.