The histories of Sir George Simpson and the Hudson's Bay Company are inextricably intertwined, for Simpson's business acumen and go-ahead personality would take a failing fur trading business to a position of great wealth and political power. Controlling a vast trading territory that stretched over 1/12 the world's surface, The HBC became the most significant business in 18th and 19th century Canada and shaped the nation. As its head, Sir George Simpson epitomized the self-made man of Victorian times.
Raffan has captured the many contradictions of this larger-than-life figure: his shame at his illegitimate birth, yet his fathering of at least 13 children out of wedlock; his love of grandiosity, yet his ability to rough it with the voyageurs. As he ranged fearlessly across his "empire of furs," spurring his employees to even greater profits, Simpson set speed and endurance records for overland travel that have yet to be beaten. Under his ruthless, inventive and far-seeing management, the HBC became one of the greatest business empires ever and contributed to the concept of a Canadian nation stretching from sea to sea. In many respects, Simpson was a "father of Confederation" ahead of his time.