By Canoe To Empire

Paddling and portaging their way westward, pursuing the fur-bearing beaver in a trade where none but the hardiest could survive, the highhearted voyageurs and the enterprising Scots who led them opened Canada’s rich hinterland

Few lands have been fought over so bitterly as Canada in the eighteenth century; and yet, at the time it was considered by most people to be practically worthless. Voltaire’s dismissal of the St. Lawrence Valley as “a few acres of snow” is almost too well-known to repeat; it is less well-known that Montcalm, who now is a Canadian hero, loathed the country he fought to defend. The British never valued Canada for herself.

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First By Land

The river that disappointed him bears his name, but Alexander Mackenzie’s great achievement in slogging to the Pacific is now almost forgotten.

The most momentous event in the geographical history of the North American continent, aside from its discovery, was the first complete crossing of it from coast to coast—a feat that was three centuries in the doing. This epochal achievement first confirmed the guesses of civilized man about the breadth and structure of the continent and led directly to the opening up of the West. Yet millions of Americans—indeed, most of us—know neither the date it was done nor the name of the man who did it. Read more »