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Old 06-13-2014, 12:27 AM   #1
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Lightbulb Free (DRM-Free PDF) Hudson's Bay Co. Comics & Education [Canadian History & Science]

Well, so it turns out that the Hudson's Bay Company, which if you didn't know already, was basically the backbone of proto-Canada thanks to the wide-reaching influence of the fur trade and general exploration for purposes of finding westward trade routes to Asia to bypass the traditional overland Silk Road & newer Portuguese-dominated sailing monopolies going in the other direction, has this "heritage" website set up, all about, you guessed it, the deeply meaningful legacy of their history before they evolved into a giant department store chain which ended up eating significant amounts of the competition in much the same way as they took over rivals during the fur trade days.

And on said heritage website, they have totally free e-books and other resources, meant to edutain you and your kiddies (well, mostly your kiddies, or any kiddies in your vicinity who seem amenable to being edutained) about said historical legacy.

In practical terms, what this means is that there's a bunch of downloadable DRM-free PDFs of nicely-laid-out info about early Canadian history and historical figures in the form of backlist coffee table books and comics, alongside a bunch of accompanying teaching guides, which may be of interest to people who're trying the homeschooling thing, want to supplement whatever they've been getting from their regular educational institutions (suitable for all ages, including adults), or just like free stuff about Canada.

Since this is apparently meant to be a permanent resource, it's going into a dedicated thread rather than the monthly time-limited non-fiction bargain/freebies so it'll be easier for people to search on.

If you happen to be interested for any of the above reasons, or just out of sheer morbid curiosity, you can head over to the following dedicated webpage on the HBC site:

HBC Learning Centre: e-Books

It's got two lavishly-illustrated history-intro books digitized from print editions produced for the Bay stores, from publisher Quantum Books:
  • Adventurers: Hudson's Bay Company ~ The Epic Story, by Christopher Moore: a sort of general overview of exploration/settlement and various related topics, originally out in 2000 (revised 2007)
  • Lords & Proprietors: A Reader's Guide to the Hudson's Bay Company Charter, a more in-depth thing containing an annotated version of portions of the original charter, giving lots of context on influential figures involved and living conditions at the time, originally out in 2004

L & P is actually pretty nice and recommended if you've any interest in how the lofty goals stated in the legalese related to how things were carried out in real life.

Also, Tales from the Bay, three biographical comics (somewhat on the low-res side, unfortunately) with video adaptations, featuring
  • Thanadelthur, a Chipewyan woman who forged a lasting peace agreement between a couple of First Nations groups
  • William Wales, a British astronomer who sailed with explorer James Cook (his comic is pretty nifty if you've ever wanted to know in cartoon form how scientific observation can be carried out under non-optimal conditions, like, say, a poorly-equipped sailing vessel carrying you to a frozen beaver-riddled proto-colony where you have to improvise your tools)
  • Sir George Simpson, who basically ran large portions of proto-Canada for years on end, not to be confused with any sort of inspiration for Canada's Simpsons department store, which itself was later gobbled up by the HBC, rendering these little distinctions kind of moot.

I rather liked these and hope they add more. In higher resolutions, preferably.

All of these come with accompanying Teacher's Guides with even more background info (supplemented with a lot of period pictures from the HBC archives as well as much more in-depth write-ups and pop-up trivia plus a few excerpts from primary source documents) and suggested learning activities and lesson plans.

Sadly, only available in English, because the equivalent Francophone version of the page currently leads to a bunch of error messages when you try to download anything.

(ETA: The rest of the Learning Centre resources do seem to be available and downloadable in French, so Centre d'apprentissage : Toutes les ressources éducatives du Patrimoine HBC for those who want to try out their mad Québecois skillz.)

Anyway, for those of you who want more such, the HBC Hamper provides a bunch of additional videos and PDF Teaching Resources with instructive text and helpful links on additional topics and there's even more stuff available via the Learning Centre start page, in case you wanted to do lessons about corporate identity marketing or whatnot.

There's also some nice introductory material and reasonably deep starter biographies on the main History subsection of the website which you could probably run through Calibre if you were inclined to DIY a portable mini-history book.

(ETA 2: The Hudson's Bay Company Archives, now in custody of the Archives of Manitoba, has a few more illustrated PDF factsheets for the curious who might want to know more about the point blankets or the beaver tokens or just a glossary of fur trade terms.)


<-- Darnit. Still no beaver smiley for a website hosted in Canada. Well, this is some kind of mutant rodent with a big tail. And they're taking over the downtown parks anyway.

Last edited by ATDrake; 06-13-2014 at 05:49 AM. Reason: Better and more appealing description. It turns out you actually can learn something from that corporate identity marketing segment!
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