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This article was published 30/9/2014 (941 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
INSIDE a secure, three-storey-high, climate-controlled vault in the heart of downtown Winnipeg are stored the archival records of North America's longest continually operating businesses -- the Hudson's Bay Company.
The treasured documents, records and journals dating back to 1670 -- the year the HBC was founded in London, England-- were shipped across the Atlantic Ocean in the fall of 1973 after HBC relocated its headquarters to Winnipeg.
The company agreed to place them on long-term loan with the Archives of Manitoba, which carefully stored them inside the specially built vault on the main floor of the Manitoba Archives Building on Vaughn Street (formerly the Civic Auditorium).
On Tuesday, about 130 invited guests and dignitaries attended a reception at the Archives Building to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the arrival of the HBC archival and artifact collections in Winnipeg, as well as the 20th anniversary of the HBC donating them to the Province of Manitoba.
While the archival records are housed in the Archives Building, the company's Museum Collection of art works and company artifacts are on display at the Manitoba Museum on Main Street.
As part of Tuesday's celebrations, HBC announced it is adding two more historic pieces to the Manitoba Museum collection -- two giant canvas murals that for decades hung in the main-floor elevator bay of its historic downtown department store.
The largest of the murals, called The Pioneer at Fort Garry, 1861, hung in the store from 1927 until last January. It shows the scene outside Fort Garry as goods are unloaded from HBC company's first paddlewheeler ship, the Pioneer.
The second mural, called The Nonsuch at Fort Charles, 1668, depicts a group of indigenous people and fur traders in front of Fort Charles while it was still under construction.
That mural was removed from the downtown store sometime before September 1948.
David Packwood, chairman of the HBC History Foundation, told the reception guests HBC has been fielding calls from concerned Winnipeggers demanding to know what happened to the biggest mural.
"It really was beloved, I think," company spokesperson Tiffany Bourré added.
What makes the HBC collection of archival records and artifacts collection so special -- they've been designated "a memory of the world" by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) -- is they not only document the rich and storied history of a unique business, but also the early history of Canada.
"We are proud to have such a vast documentation of the history of Canada right here in Manitoba," Multiculturalism and Literacy Minister Flor Marcelino told the reception guests.
"This international treasure will continue to be used and appreciated for generations to come."