Alexander MacKenzie’s Transcontinental Trek
Photo credit: John Harvey
Alexander MacKenzie is remembered as a great explorer in Canada and his native Scotland, but he doesn’t get the global recognition that he deserves. He is not on the same level as some of his contemporaries, such as Lewis and Clark.
In 1804, after the Louisiana Purchase, Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark set out on an expedition to explore the new American territories, claim the Pacific Northwest for the US, and reach the Pacific Ocean.
They completed their transcontinental trek in 1806, ensuring their place in the history books. But Alexander MacKenzie had done the same thing more than a decade before them. In 1793, MacKenzie became the first European to cross North America. He could have done it even sooner if his first trip had been successful.
He originally set out for the Pacific Ocean in 1789 by following the largest river in Canada. MacKenzie hoped that it flowed into the Pacific, but the river actually went north into the Arctic Ocean. Even though the trip was a failure, that river is now named MacKenzie in his honor.
His second trip went much better. In 1792, MacKenzie set out from Fort Chipewyan in Alberta and followed the Peace River into the Rockies. After crossing the Great Divide, he followed the Bella Coola River and reached the Pacific Coast. There, he painted a simple message on a rock face that said: “Alex MacKenzie from Canada by land 22d July 1793.”
It's always strange to find out that history doesn't always match what we were taught. Kinda makes you want to question some of what we learn today! Thanks to the folks at Listverse for this article.
Coffee out on the patio today!