The Company may have been based in Montreal, but the key was having that location in Minnesota. The company's most successful years, when it was five times larger than Hudson's Bay Co., were all in Grand Portage. From that route Sir A. Mackenzie reaches the Pacific before Lewis and Clark, and then reaches the Arctic Ocean. Natives used Grand Portage as a highway out of Canada to deal with competing English traders and French traders before that, opening a whole international economic opportunity. Up to 78% of all the furs in the international fur trade came through Grand Portage. Geography, exploration, and economics came together in one place and that explosion opened half a continent.
~Karl Koster, Armstrong, IA