CHIPMAN, CLARENCE CAMPBELL, office holder and HBC officer; b. 24 May 1856 in Amherst, N.S., son of John Allen Chipman, a postmaster, and Abbie Whidden Brown; m. 25 April 1882 Ada Jane Borradaile (d. 1913) in Ottawa, and they had at least one son and three daughters; d. 11 Feb. 1924 in Royal Leamington Spa, England.
Educated in Amherst, Clarence Campbell Chipman is said to have worked in the federal departments of Agriculture, Public Works, and Finance before 1882. In 1880 he was with the Department of Finance in Ottawa, but he most likely did not join the civil service in 1867, as some sources have claimed. On 27 Jan. 1882 he became private secretary to Sir Charles Tupper*, minister of railways and canals. When Tupper was officially appointed Canadian high commissioner in London in May 1884, Chipman accompanied him there as assistant secretary and accountant. In this position Chipman organized Canada’s contribution to the universal exposition held in Antwerp the following year and in 1886 he served as accountant for Canada’s participation in the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London. After acting as Tupper’s assistant in the Atlantic fisheries negotiations in Washington in 1887-88, he was promoted chief clerk in the Department of Marine and Fisheries and private secretary to the minister, Tupper’s son Charles Hibbert, on 1 July 1888. He participated in the negotiations over the seal fishery in the Bering Sea in 1889 [see Sir Charles Tupper] and was later said to have written a treatise on the fisheries of Canada in 1891.
On 12 May 1891 Chipman was appointed trade commissioner of the Hudson’s Bay Company, a senior Canadian position within the firm. He was one of a series of professional administrators who were hired from outside the HBC by its London committee in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to shake up the managerial staff. The HBC, and particularly its governor, Sir Donald Alexander Smith*, had been attracted by Chipman’s administrative abilities. As well, Smith had sought someone who would adhere to his policy of fiscal restraint. As commissioner, Chipman supervised over 100 posts, shops, and depots stretching from Quebec to the Yukon; he hired managers, checked accounts, and developed strategies to comply with the wishes of the London committee. He served in his new post until October, when the committee decided to separate the fur trade into two departments, fur trade and saleshop (retail trade), but to combine their administration with that of the land department under a single person, Chipman, who was named chief commissioner.
Faced with falling profits from furs and competition from companies with smaller infrastructures, the London committee issued Chipman a mandate in 1892 to reduce costs. Chipman followed this course of action rigorously, generating the greatest amount of profit while effecting strict economy and promoting efficiency. He expanded the firm’s network of steamships in order to move more goods at lower costs and he promoted the use of the telegraph to bring news of international fur prices to traders. The firm’s administrative operations were centralized in Winnipeg, eliminating haphazard accounting and overlap of personnel. The HBC adopted a conservative approach to land sales, selling only when market conditions were favourable, and it expanded its retail department. Chipman introduced cost accounting, price standardization, and regular inspections. He also suggested that cash replace barter in trading for furs. In 1910 the company embarked on a thorough inspection of the retail business and afterwards decided to divide it into departments by “placing at the head of each a man especially conversant with these respective interests.”
In May 1911 Chipman was demoted to the position of commissioner of the land department. On 12 September the London committee, which had new members who wanted to change the firm’s methods, resolved that he be given notice. He was to be paid at the rate of £1,500 a year to 31 May 1912, after which time he would receive his pension. Following his departure, the HBC reverted to the structure it had abandoned on his appointment in 1891 and enhanced the role of middle managers. Thus, the company’s operation in Canada became more specialized as its bureaucratic structure was enlarged. This development would not have been possible without the measures Chipman had brought in to make its management more effective.
Clarence Campbell Chipman moved to England in 1911 with his wife and two of his daughters. He purchased Woodlands, a home in Roehampton (London). In 1923 he moved to Arnathwaite House in Royal Leamington Spa, where he stayed until his death the following year.
The correspondence of Clarence Campbell Chipman while he served as trade commissioner and then chief commissioner of the Hudson’s Bay Company can be found in the following series at the AM, HBCA: D.13-D.14, D.17-D.22, D.24-D.27, D.44.
AM, HBCA, A.1/160, ff.106-7. AO, RG 80-5-0-105, no.1911. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Geneal. Soc., International geneal. index. Ottawa Free Press, 25 April 1882. Times (London), 13 Feb. 1924. C. J. Brydges, The letters of Charles John Brydges, 1883-1889, Hudson’s Bay Company land commissioner, ed. Hartwell Bowsfield, intro. J. E. Rea (Winnipeg, 1981), xi-lxxxii. Can., Dept. of the Secretary of State, The civil service list of Canada . . . (Ottawa), 1883-91. Canadian men and women of the time (Morgan; 1898 and 1912). “C. C. Chipman, commissioner Hudson’s Bay Co., 1891-1911,” Beaver (Winnipeg), 4 (1923-24): 218-19. Directory, Ottawa, 1880-83. J. S. Galbraith, “Land policies of the Hudson’s Bay Company, 1870-1913,” CHR, 32 (1951): 1-21. P. C. Nigol, “Efficiency and economy: commissioner C. C. Chipman and the Hudson’s Bay Company, 1891-1911” (ma thesis, Univ. of Man., Winnipeg, 1994). E. J. Stardom, “Adapting to altered circumstances: trade commissioner Joseph Wrigley and the Hudson’s Bay Company, 1884-1891” (ma thesis, Univ. of Man., 1987).