Epic Wanderer

Epic Wanderer

David Thompson and the Mapping of the Canadian West

Book - 2003
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Popular historian D'Arcy Jenish recreates the adventure and sacrifice of mapmaker David Thompson's fascinating life in the wilderness of North America. Epic Wanderer, the first full-length biography of David Thompson, is set in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries against a broad canvas of dramatic rivalries -- between the United States and British North America, between the Hudson's Bay Company and its Montreal-based rival, the North West Co., and between the various First Nations thrown into disarray by the advent of guns, horses and alcohol. Less celebrated than his contemporaries Lewis and Clark, Thompson spent nearly three decades (1784-1812) surveying and mapping over 1.2 million square miles of largely uncharted Indian territory. Travelling across the prairies, over the Rockies and on to the Pacific, Thompson transformed the raw data of his explorations into a map of the Canadian West. Measuring ten feet by seven feet, and laid out with astonishing accuracy, the map became essential to the politicians and diplomats who would decide upon the future of the rich and promising lands of the West. Yet its creator worked without personal glory and died in penniless obscurity. Drawing extensively on David Thompson's personal journals, illustrated with his detailed sketches, intricate notebook pages and the map itself,Epic Wanderercharts the life of a man who risked everything in the name of scientific advancement and exploration.
Publisher: [Toronto] : Doubleday Canada, c2003
ISBN: 9780385659734
Branch Call Number: 971.2 T46j
921 T469j
Characteristics: 309 pages : illustrations, facsimiles, maps ; 24 cm


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rb3221 Apr 26, 2017

An excellent and informative account of the travels and successes of David Thompson, 'one of the most remarkable men in Canadian history'. It is amazing that he was able to create a detailed and very accurate map of 1.2 million square miles of uncharted Indian territory. To the Indians he was Koo Koo Sint, the Man who Looked at Stars.
A few of the many interesting facts: 1. He begins at the age of 16 when there were no maps further than Winnipeg. 2. Once with the North West Company, he became committed to exploration, discovery and his surveying. 3. On one occasion he traveled 4,500 miles in 6 months and transported 5,000 pounds of furs. 4. His completed map was six feet nine inches tall and ten feet four inches wide and made of twenty five sheets of paper glued together. It was filled with engaging detail with such things as the company's seventy-eight trading posts accurately located, all major waterways, dozens of secondary streams and the direction in which the rivers flowed.
The author shows that David Thompson "was a foundational figure in the creation of the country, and his map was one of the greatest single achievements of the nineteenth century".
Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in early Canadian history, the Hudson Bay Company and the North West Company.

Sep 07, 2016

A fine book with good descriptions of Thompson's activities but with one critical caveat; there are no useful maps in this book about geography!
What maps are contained in the book and on the fly-leafs are all too small to read. This makes useful interpretation of the text nigh on impossible, because modern maps do not have the HBC and NWC place names on them. Very frustrating and totally unprofessional. Bad show.

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