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By Barry Gough

Looking the Northwest Passage and the fabled wish to Russia, Japan, and Cathay, Alexander Mackenzie drove himself and his males relentlessly, via canoe and portage, around the uncharted rivers, valleys, and mountains of North the US. Mackenzie's 1789 trip to the Arctic Ocean and his exhausting trip to the Pacific in 1793 predate the Lewis and Clark day trip. by means of the age of thirty-one Alexander Mackenzie had turn into the 1st guy to move North the US from the northwestern hub of the inner alternate, Lake Athabasca in present-day northern Alberta, to the Pacific Ocean. He had opened the continent to alternate and exploration.Mackenzie used to be a guy of huge ego and overpowering ambition. He left Scotland looking for chance within the North American fur alternate and accomplished luck via a mixture of daring exploits, grim selection, and enterprise acumen. Mackenzie lower back to his place of origin past due in lifestyles to be knighted, marry, and reside a extra genteel lifestyles, abandoning a M?tis relatives in North the United States. His celebrated booklet Voyages from Montreal continues to be an everlasting vintage of worldwide trip literature.In his learn, Barry Gough traveled from Mackenzie's birthplace to his tomb and from Montreal to the Arctic Ocean and to the Pacific. he's taking the reader in addition to Mackenzie on his dangerous travels and voyages, utilizing modern debts to carry to existence the issues and perils confronted through the younger explorer.First around the Continent finds the foreign influence of Sir Alexander Mackenzie's expeditions and locations him one of the elite of latest international explorers, illuminating his very important function within the background of the fur alternate and the yankee West.

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These two northern locations, though on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean, were brought into historical conjunction by the life of Sir Alexander Mackenzie. Stornoway and Lewis were places of legend where the Mackenzies of Seaforth flourished in times past. There Alexander was born in the year 1762, and not in 1763 or 1764 as has been previously speculated, for his emigrant record of 1774 gives his age as twelve. His place of birth was no crofter's cottage or terrace house but a handsome west-facing, slate-roofed house at the corner of Francis and Kenneth Streets, where Martin's Memorial Church now stands.

The research and writing of this book have given good reason for visiting or revisiting certain locations in Canada and Scotland that feature in the text. In Scotland my travels took me to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis and to Avoch on the Black Islerespectively, Mackenzie's birthplace and final resting place. Like Samuel Johnson, who toured the Western Islands with James Boswell in 1773, the last year that Alexander Mackenzie resided at home before his departure for America, I expected to find a wilder, earlier state of things than I actually encountered.

Old relationships were being broken up; discontent and insecurity were widely felt. "We came thither too late to see what we expected, a people of peculiar appearance, and a system of antiquated life," bemoaned the celebrated traveler Dr. Samuel Johnson of his visit with James Boswell to the Hebrides in 1773. To this Johnson added with rare insight into the times: "The clans retain little now of their original character, their ferocity of temper is softened, their military ardour is extinguished, their dignity of independence is depressed, their contempt of government subdued, and their reverence for their chiefs abated.

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