In 1965, the Hudson's Bay Company (hbc) unveiled "the Bay/la Baie" as the primary corporate identifier for its urban retail stores in Canada. At the same time, the company was also preparing to celebrate its 300th anniversary in 1970. Rather than viewing the "modern" Bay in opposition to the historical name, this article argues that competing regional historical sensibilities were central to the redesign of the company's corporate image. Following the company's merger with the Montreal-based Morgan's department stores in 1960, the hbc found itself navigating the historical attachments of its western base, the nationalist aspirations of Quebec, and the indifference of metropolitan Ontario. By drawing together corporate discussions around design, typeface, marketing, historical displays, and a commemorative film produced by Christopher Chapman, this article explores the image worlds assembled by the hbc to bridge multiple identities. It also analyzes how historical consciousness itself became an object of study for the company in trying to understand and predict consumer behaviour. The tensions and debates around corporate identity and the 1970 tercentenary point to the significance of visual aesthetics in the evocation and erasure of particular histories in the 1960s.

Additional Metadata
Keywords 1960s, Branding, Corporate identity, Design, Hudson's bay company
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.3138/chr.2675
Journal Canadian Historical Review
Citation
Opp, J. (2015). Branding "the Bay/la baie": Corporate identity, the Hudson's bay company, and the Burden of history in the 1960s. Canadian Historical Review (Vol. 96, pp. 223–256). doi:10.3138/chr.2675