Henry Hudson's explorations laid the groundwork for the creation of the Hudson's Bay Company, which had a leading role in the European expansion into of the Canadian west.
In the early 1600s, European knew little about the west and had little interest in it. The vast lands were simply an obstacle to trade with China. It was the fur trade that transformed the territory.
The early years of ill-fated English explorer Henry Hudson are obscure. He entered history in 1607, already middle-aged, hired by the English Muscovy Company to find a way to China via the North Pole. His trip was a failure but in 1610, the East India Company and the optimistically named Northwest Passage Company financed another attempt.
Hudson was a gifted navigator. He had an outsized imagination and the necessary courage for exploration, but he was an erratic leader and a fatally flawed judge of men.
In his ship the Discovery, Hudson negotiated the treacherous tides and ice south of Resolute Island then entered an immense body of water with a sense of destiny, assuming it was the Pacific Ocean.
But his hopes were destroyed when he found himself in a cul-de-sac that was later named James Bay. He explored this "labyrinth without end" for several weeks before he admitted that it wasn't the route to China. By then, it was October and too late to return to England before the passage was frozen.
His crew blamed him for the failure, which had a number of unfortunate consequences: they wouldn't be getting the promised bonus for finding the passage for one thing, and they would be spending the winter in the frozen north, poorly equipped and on short rations.
During the miserable, deprived winter the idea of mutiny took root among Hudson's men.