Your friends, your family, your co-workers: someone you know has worked for us. It’s what makes us unique.
There’s something about being part of a company that is fast approaching its 350th birthday. And that something is more than just amazement at the last three-plus centuries of Canadian history that have unfolded along with HBC’s own. More than just simple longevity is the procession of people who have accompanied us along the journey.
For many, the explorers, traders, and associates who people our past are their ancestors. Thousands of people on both sides of the border can claim HBC roots dating back to the fur trade era. In central and western Canada, we could say the same for pretty much anyone of Métis descent: your roots are HBC roots.
In the large urban centres, over a century of retailing by HBC and the companies we acquired means there are even more links to the lives of people who worked for us, supplied our stores or shopped with us. Not so long ago HBC was the 5th largest employer in Canada, with over 70 thousand full and part-time associates. That’s a pretty big payroll.
As a result of all this history, it’s perhaps not too surprising that it’s very easy to find links to HBC without a whole lot of effort. And, usually, well within six degrees of separation.
Here’s a little game I like to play. When I meet someone new and they ask where I work, I am proud to say I work for HBC. Usually that’s the only prompt that’s required for the other person to tell me who they know who has worked for the Company. In my own case, my sister-in-law’s first summer job was in the warehouse in Pointe-Claire, Quebec in the early 1970s. An aunt spent a decade as a sales associate with Simpsons. A close friend did a stint in after-sales service in Major Home in the 1990s. A former co-worker in Heritage was actually a “return”: she put herself through university thanks to a part-time job with Zellers. And a current co-worker from Alberta learned, after starting with us, that her grandmother had been an in-store buyer in Edmonton in the middle of the 20th.
That’s how pervasive HBC is in the lives of Canadians. It’s part of our DNA.