For 200 years, the Hudson's Bay Company enjoyed a monopoly in the northwest. It had established trading posts-"factories"-on the western shore of Hudson Bay, and Native traders, primarily Cree, travelled to the factories to exchange furs for European goods. The aggressive trade practices of the Montreal-based North West Company, however, forced the Hudson's Bay Company to establish trading posts farther inland.
In the spring of 1795, Angus Shaw established the North West Company trading post at Fort Saskatchewan. The Hudson's Bay Company responded by building Fort Edmonton farther upstream on the North Saskatchewan River. William Tomison oversaw the construction of the fort. He named it Fort Edmonton in honour of Edmonton Estates, the ancestral English home of the Deputy Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company.