Mountain Nature and Culture Podcast
About This Show
This podcast explores the natural and human history of the Canadian Rockies as well as its attractions and culture. We'll look at the ecology and wildlife, as well as the plants and birds that make the Canadian Rockies home. Looking back through our history, we'll share the stories behind the scenery. This is the place for all things Rockies.
Most Recent Episode
052 David Thompson quits the Hudson's Bay Company, and what's up with climate science deniers?
3 days ago
David Thompson Part 2 Last week I talked about David Thompson's arrival in Canada and some of his adventures during the earliest part of his long career in Canada. They were just the start of a 40+ year adventure across the wilderness of this nation and the northern United States. This week, I planned to talk about his explorations in the Canadian Rockies and along the course of the Columbia River in British Columbia, but quite frankly, his story is just too important to rush. So this week, I talk about the period between last week's episode of a young David Thompson until he made the decision to join the Northwest Company in 1797. If we start from the 18-year old Thompson we left last week, then for the next 10 years, he settled into a routine as both a fur trader and surveyor. To be a Hudson's Bay man meant that you had to put trade above all else, including surveying. Thompson continued his gruelling schedule of travel during these intervening years, travelling to and from the forts of present-day northern Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Thompson's true love was surveying. He was an admirable fur trader but the more time he spent in the wilderness, the more he began to admire the traders of the Northwest Company. They seemed to have the freedom to explore and were less tied to distant forts like Hudson Bay. He was under the command of Joseph Colen of York Factory. Colen was a cautious trader who focused his energy on getting more and more furs to Hudson Bay and didn't believe in wasting manpower and money to explore more distant areas, like the country surrounding Lake Athabasca. This, however, was completely counter to directives given to him from London. In 1778-79, Peter Pond of the Northwest Company had significant success trading at Lake Athabasca, and the Hudson's Bay Company directors wanted a piece of that action. Some 10 years later, In 1790, Philip Turnor was charged by the Hudson's Bay Company to lead an expedition to the lake and investigate the possibility of a route to the Pacific. During the previous winter, Turnor had trained David Thompson and Peter Fidler (another explorer of note), the skills of surveying. Turnor's experiences at Lake Athabasca showed that it was a potential bonanza for trade, despite the presence of the Northwest Company Traders that had preceded them. He described it as "the Grand Magazine of the Athapiscow Country," and believed that it would