CHAPTER 3: The Coveted Pacific Coast
From Sea to Sea
'From Canada by land' - Alexander MacKenzie reaches the Pacific, 22 July 1793
(Click image to enlarge)
At the end of the eighteenth century, the British Admiralty, even after several attempts, was still unable to discover the famous Northwest Passage joining the Atlantic and the Pacific. Others, meanwhile, attempted to make the link by land, including fur traders working for rival companies, the North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company. One such trader, a partner of the North West Company, reached the Pacific at last. Alexander Mackenzie left Montreal, crossed the Rockies and reached the Pacific coast by the Bella Coola River on July 22, 1793.
Over the following decades other fur traders built trading posts all the way to the Pacific. These men from the east, often of French-Canadian or Scottish descent, could if necessary turn themselves into militiamen to defend the British flag flying over their small posts. Thus at the beginning of the nineteenth century, soon after the departure of the Spanish from the northwest coast, the main beacons for the immense territory of British North America were in place from the Atlantic to the Pacific. One day, a country would emerge: Canada.