North West Company - Followup from old forum

Michael Swanson
Michael Swanson
Total Posts:  2462
Joined  26-02-2005
23 October 2006 16:26

I received this today, and it references a message in the old forum…

See the fourth quarter in the second drawing (obscured) for the source of the base in the first drawing.

I like the second arm’s motto (I think I understand it).


Dear Michael Swanson:

Sometime ago you sent an e-mail message to the North West Company here in Winnipeg which was forwarded to the HBC Archives, also in Winnipeg.  I apologize for the oversight in responding and thank you for your patience.


The coat of arms you posted on the American Heraldry Society forum is the one associated with the North West Company (which merged with the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1821).  The modern North West Company was created out of the sale of certain assets of the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1987.


The Library and Archives Canada has a watercolour and gouache work of the NWC coat of arms:


The coat of arms takes certain elements from the “Grant of Arms to William and Simon McGillivray”. The HBC Archives has a parchment facsimile, with the Coat of Arms reproduced in colour, dated 6 June 1823 (vellum): see attached




For more information on the coat of arms you could contact Old Fort William Historical Site:


Again, thank you for your patience.  I hope you find the information useful.




Debra Moore



Head, Acquisition and Special Media

(Still Images, Cartographic and

Moving Images & Sound)

Hudson’s Bay Company Archives

Archives of Manitoba


Joseph McMillan
Joseph McMillan
Total Posts:  7658
Joined  08-06-2004
23 October 2006 20:55

This is a really interesting illustration of the way heraldic-artistic tastes change.  The arms of the MacGillivray brothers contain four classically Celtic quarterings (cat of Clan Chattan, open hand—or is it supposed to be the glove mentioned in the motto?—salmon, galley with crosses crosslet fitchy and hand with dagger in the damaged fourth quarter).  Nowadays, the first three quarters and the distinctive chief would all be depicted in a much more stylized form, but there’s nothing that would preclude a modern artist from emulating the more naturalistic style of the 18th/19th century if he wanted to.