Voyages from Montreal, on the River St. Laurence, through the Continent of North America, to the Frozen and Pacific Oceans: In the Years 1789 and 1793 with a Preliminary Account of the Rise, Progress and Present State of The Fur Trade of That Country

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Author: Mackenzie, Alexander (1764-1820)

Year: 1802

Publisher: G. F. Hopkins

Place: New York


ix+94+296 pages with folding engraved frontispiece map and tables. Octavo (8 1/4" x 5") bound in original publisher's full leather with new spine five raised spine bands with red label in gilt lettering to spine. (Howes M133; Pilling 2387a; Sabin 43415.2) First American edition.

Sir Alexander Mackenzie was a Scottish explorer known for accomplishing the first east to west crossing of North America north of Mexico, which preceded the more famous Lewis and Clark Expedition by 12 years. His overland crossing of what is now Canada reached the Pacific Ocean in 1793. On behalf of the North West Company, Mackenzie traveled to Lake Athabasca where, in 1788, he was one of the founders of Fort Chipewyan. He had been sent to replace Peter Pond, a partner in the North West Company. From Pond, he learned that the First Nations people understood that the local rivers flowed to the northwest. Acting on this information, he set out by canoe on the river known to the local Dene First Nations people as the Dehcho, (Mackenzie River) on 3 July 1789, following it to its mouth in the hope of finding the Northwest Passage to the Pacific Ocean. As he ended up reaching the Arctic Ocean on 14 July. n 1791, Mackenzie returned to Great Britain to study the new advance in the measurement of longitude. Upon his return to Canada in 1792, he set out once again to find a route to the Pacific. Accompanied by two native guides (one named Cancre), his cousin, Alexander MacKay, six Canadian voyageurs (Joseph Landry, Charles Ducette, Francois Beaulieux, Baptiste Bisson, Francois Courtois, Jacques Beauchamp) and a dog simply referred to as "our dog", Mackenzie left Fort Chipewyan on 10 October 1792, and traveled via the Pine River to the Peace River. From there he traveled to a fork on the Peace River arriving 1 November where he and his cohorts built a fortification that they resided in over the winter. This later became known as Fort Fork. Mackenzie left Fort Fork on 9 May 1793, following the route of the Peace River. He crossed the Great Divide and found the upper reaches of the Fraser River, but was warned by the local natives that the Fraser Canyon to the south was unnavigable and populated by belligerent tribes.[13] He was instead directed to follow a grease trail by ascending the West Road River, crossing over the Coast Mountains and descending the Bella Coola River to the sea. He followed this advice and reached the Pacific coast on 20 July 1793, at Bella Coola, British Columbia, on North Bentinck Arm, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean. Having done this, he had completed the first recorded transcontinental crossing of North America north of Mexico, 12 years before Lewis and Clark. He had unknowingly missed meeting George Vancouver at Bella Coola by 48 days. He had wanted to continue westward out of a desire to reach the open ocean, but was stopped by the hostility of the Heiltsuk people. Hemmed in by Heiltsuk war canoes, he wrote a message on a rock near the water's edge of Dean Channel, using a reddish paint made of vermilion and bear grease, and turned back east. The inscription read: "Alex MacKenzie / from Canada / by land / 22d July 1793" (at the time the name Canada was an informal term for the former French territory in what is now southern Quebec and Ontario).[16]:418 The words were later inscribed permanently by surveyors. The site is now Sir Alexander Mackenzie Provincial Park and is designated a First Crossing of North America National Historic Site.[17] In 2016, Mackenzie was named a National Historic Person. In his journal Mackenzie recorded the Carrier language for the first time.


Spine ends rubbed, corners bumped, front hinge a bit over opened, map split along fold, staining to fore-edge of first few leaves (including map), occasional spots, old tape residue to end-papers with contemporary non-authorial inscription, corners bumped, bookplate of Robert MacFie else a very good copy.

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