One of North America’s oldest companies was founded when the Hudson’s Bay Company was granted a permanent charter to open up the fur trade in North America. At the time its charter was granted, it was the de facto government in parts of North America before other European states and, later, the United States laid claim to overlapping territories.
While it may not be a household Fortune 500 name anymore, and may not have participated in the fur trade since 1987, it was at one time the largest landowner in the world (with 15% of North American acreage). The trade routes that it opened up paved the way for settling, and eventually, administrating in North America, and it paved the way for the colonies. When it signed the Deed of Surrender (on November 19, 1869), its remaining territory became the largest component in the Dominion of Canada, in which the company was still the largest private landowner.
It’s primary business today is, of course, mercantile, as it owns multiple chains of retail stores throughout Canada and the US, and it is still doing fairly well, with Wikipedia listing its 2013 Total Assets at almost 8 Billion Canadian.