Columbia Journals

Columbia Journals

Book - 2007
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Univ of Washington Pr
David Thompson (1770-1857) is considered by many to have been the most important surveyor of North America. His achievements -- mapping the Saskatchewan River, the great bend of the Missouri River, the Great Lakes and the headwaters of the Mississippi as well as the Columbia watershed -- are the stuff of legend. Late in life Thompson wrote a retrospective memoir of his explorations, but the best way to understand his years in the fur trade is by reading his journals.

In her new Preface to the Bicentennial Edition of Columbia Journals, Barbara Belyea considers the fur-trade context of journals, reports, and memoirs that shaped both Thompson’s perception of contemporary people, places, and events and our own perception of Thompson’s historical importance.

In Columbia Journals, the fur trader, explorer, and cartographer records his exploration of the Columbia River basin and his efforts on behalf of the North West Company to establish good trade routes across the Rocky Mountains. The journals provide a detailed picture of the fur business during its period of greatest expansion, offer a glimpse of Native culture at the moment of contact with Europeans, and describe landscapes that have since been transformed by settlement and industry. Thompson’s hand-drawn maps preserve a contemporary image of the country he explored.

Book News
David Thompson (1770-1857), one of the most important surveyors of North America, mapped the Columbia River watershed, as well as the Saskatchewan River, the great bend of the Missouri River, the Great Lakes, and the headwaters of the Mississippi River. His journals document the Northwest Company's efforts to find trade routes across the Canadian Rocky Mountains, and reveal his personal interest in mapping the Columbia. Belyea (humanities, University of Calgary) provides notes for the journals. By placing Thompson's work in the context of the period and comparing his accomplishments with those of his contemporaries, she shows why Thompson is worthy of attention 200 years after his surveys of the Columbia. Details from Thompson's b&w maps are included. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: Seattle : University of Washington Press, 2007
Edition: Bicentennial ed
ISBN: 9780295987484
Characteristics: xxx, 336 p. : maps ; 22 cm
Additional Contributors: Belyea, Barbara


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