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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A Man to Match the Mountains

To David Thompson—who died blind, penniless, and bypassed by history—we owe our first knowledge of the American continent’s rugged Northwest

David Thompson was a short, stocky man with snub nose and hair “cut square” across his forehead in a way that made him resemble John Bunyan. That is all we know about his looks. Until recently, historians knew little about who David Thompson was or what he did, and even today, few people recognize his name. Among those familiar with his exploits, however, he is now deemed one of the most important explorers of the New World, and has been acclaimed as one of the greatest land geographers ever produced by the English-speaking people.