Hudson Bay Blanket History


The Hudson Bay Blanket is an historical item that actually fascinates me.

In fact, not only does it have its own history but it also has a background that has interested me for many decades. Eventually this item went on to become used for outerwear in addition to the original blankets. Foremost, this blanket and the clothing that came from it are part of my half century learning and sharing passion or my ikigai.
Hudson-Bay-Blanket with inset
Vintage Rare Hudson Bay 4 point blanket from with inset of 1936 ad for Mackinaw jacket
“The classic Hudson Bay Point blanket. This is a 4 point Beacon blanket. Has gold tag. Wonderful wool blanket with the iconic stripes. Blanket is in fantastic shape. No moth holes or big issues. There is one faint blemish as pictured. Otherwise in near perfect shape. Great for winter as these blankets are excellent and a great piece for the collector as these don’t come around too often in this shape.” Etsy

Hudson’s Bay point blanket from
Origin Paraphrased from The Canadian Encyclopedia: The first point blankets were created by French weavers who developed a “point system” — a way to specify the finished size of a blanket — sometime in the 17th century. (See also Weaving.)

The term “point,” in this case, originates from the French word empointer, which means “to make threaded stitches on cloth.” The points were simply a series of thin black lines on one of the corners of the blanket, which were used to identify the size of the blanket.

Even though the points on the blankets did not have an inherent value, merchants during the fur trade often priced point blankets according to the number of points on the blanket, with one point assigned for small blankets and four points designated for very large blankets.


Mackinaw Jacket When all hope failed that a shipment of military greatcoats would arrive from Britain, alternatives named Mackinaw jackets were made from these blankets. Their shorter length jacket was more fitting for travel between Montreal and Mackinaw with its deep snow drifts. In other words, two uses not just one came from the Hudson Bay point blankets. In addition, the Mackinaw jackets were of a superior quality to the British Greatcoats.
Trading with the Indians There is in fact a very controversial side to the story of trading with the Indians. Reference is made to it in the podcast above. It is not my intention to ignore this aspect of the history. But it is my preference to focus on the positive aspects of the Hudson Bay Blanket as an historical rather than politically motivated chronicle.

trading with the Indians “Pioneer at Fort Garry 1861” from The Point Blankets site

The section below Trading with the Indians is reprinted with permission from Harold Tichenor, author of The Point Blankets Site.

Sources & Resources*

Vintage RARE Hudson Bay 4 point Wool blanket With Gold Label
Hudson’s Bay Point Blanket – Origin
Hudson’s Bay point blanket – History
Woven Textiles from the Canadian Encyclopedia
THE BAY – Multistripe Point Blanket
The Remarkable History of the Hudson’s Bay Company
Who Made That Hudson’s Bay Blanket
Mackinaw Jackets
The Point Blankets Site

*The border at the top and bottom of this post is based on an earlier Hudson Bay Company brand.

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