Interview with Franchere – part 1

Rather than providing a textbook review of John Jacob Astor`s venture in Astoria, I thought it would be fun to interview first hand someone who was actually there.

Of course, all these people are dead, so we’d have to have a time machine  (or a really good imagination).

Our medium will be a popular men`s magazine – you know the one. It has a lot of pictures of naked women, but we all know men really buy it for the interviews. Continue reading

Who found the Columbia River first?

Obviously, the Columbia River was never lost.

But isn’t it amazing how stories change as retold throughout time.

In my previous post about Captain Gray, I accused him of having heard about the river from Captain George Vancouver. It was in noted in some documents I’ve read. But go back to Franchere’s journal (which is easily searchable since the entire thing is on-line and I downloaded it) and you’ll find that Franchere said Gray told Captain Vancouver about the river and it was AFTER Gray had been there that Vancouver sent his Lt. Broughton up the river. Continue reading

The book, part 4: Do we need Indians?

So I pretty much knew I had the story; but the background research was going to kill me. I mean, I had to learn everything I could about the fur trade in order to write about it with any inkling.

How could I do all that and finish the book in my lifetime?

One way would be to do what every other historian over the past two hundred years has done – eliminate the Indians. Continue reading

Cape Breton’s Chinese settlement

Here’s a story I never heard in school.

Just watched an interesting program on the History channel that suggests Chinese explorers developed a settlement on Cape Breton (eastern Canada, off the coast of Nova Scotia) in the 1400s – that possibly Columbus knew about this, because the “Island of Seven Cities” was marked on an early map. Continue reading

Sea captain – a poor career choice

In reading about all these sea captains of old, and if one could go back and give them some advice about their career choices, I’d tell them to treat people, both their own and the ones they visit, with some respect.

Otherwise, there seems to be a heavy dose of  karma at work here.

Captain George Vancouver was obviously a very nice guy and did everything he could to avoid scuffles with natives or anyone else. He died in his bed in England. However, he was only 40 years old. Continue reading

Who is Vancouver named after?

I did not write the following but borrowed it from Watercraft Philately:

This is a well-written biographic of the man who is remembered by so many place names along the Pacific Northwest coast. Please have a read and note how much he accomplished. You`ll be amazed at how old he was when he died.

Also, it is noted that he is from the Van Coeverden Dutch family. Canada’s first gold medal olympic kayaker is one Adam Van Koeverden. (In genealogy circles, Cs and Ks are used intermittently. So I wonder if Adam is related to this great Dutch explorer.


Captain George Vancouver

by W. Kaye Lamb

Captain George Vancouver, the first European to explore the inner waters of Burrard Inlet, was born in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, on June 22, 1757. He was of Dutch ancestry, descended from the titled Van Coeverden family, whose castle at Coeverden was long an important fortress on the eastern frontier with Germany. Vancouver’s great-grandfather married an Englishwoman; his grandfather seems to have spent most of his later years in England. George’s father, John Jasper Vancouver, was assistant collector of customs at King’s Lynn(actually the functioning official, as the position of collector was a sinecure). His mother, Bridget Berners, came from an old county family that numbered Sir Richard Grenville, of Revenge fame, among their ancestors. Continue reading

Why was the Tonquin attacked?

If you are following this, you might wonder why the natives in Clayoquat Sound attacked the Tonquin.

Apart from the abject stupidity of Captain Jonathan Thorn, I think there was another underlying cause. And I’m also amazed that textbook historians hadn’t put this together. Continue reading

Tonquin – Astor’s first ship


(You may want to read this saga from the bottom up. You can bypass the Primer on the Fur Trade and just go to the next story.)


The first ship to set sail – to set up a colony on the Pacific Northwest coast – was called the Tonquin.

Our main character, Ross Cox, was not on it.

However, the Tonquin plays a vital part in the story.

So I began Chapter 1 on the date the Tonquin set sail.

There was nothing in Cox’s journal to explain why he went to America or what possessed him to sign up for such an arduous enterprise; so this part had to be fiction. Continue reading

Who was first to cross North American continent?

Our history books tell us that Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were the first to cross the American continent from coast to coast. That was in 1804-06.

In Canada, the first to arrive at the Pacific was Alexander Mackenzie, in 1793.

But how is it that when these travellers got there, the Indians already knew about the “Shiny Mountains” and vast plains full of buffalo? Continue reading