Pro Pelle Cutem | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Pro Pelle Cutem

Pro pelle cutem (a Latin phrase meaning “a pelt for a skin”) is the traditional motto of the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). It was adopted soon after the company received its charter in 1670 and has remained on the HBC coat of arms, apart from a brief period of rebranding between 2002 and 2013.

Both the origin and the interpretation of the motto have been much debated. It may be an adaptation of pellem pro pelle from the Biblical verse Job 2:4 (usually translated as “skin for skin”) or of pro cute pellem by the Roman poet Juvenal in his Satire 10, line 192 (“hide in place of skin”). The motto is often taken to mean “[animal] skins obtained at the cost of [human] skin.” (See also: Beaver Pelts; Fur Trade.)

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