Alexander Mackenzie
explorer and fur trader

1763 - 1820

Alexander Mackenzie explorer and fur trader, was the first man to cross continental North America, a trip he accomplished by canoe, twelve years before Lewis and Clark. A skilled navigator, he determined his longitude by observing the eclipses of the planet Jupiter's satellites.

Mackenzie's journal of his explorations appeared in 1801. To retrace the route to the Pacific Ocean described in Mackenzie's book requires travelling by canoe or seaplane through mostly roadless country. Using the explorer's own journal as a guide, author Robert Hing retraced Mackenzie's trail in the summer of 1990, alone, in a small seaplane.

This trail, North America's first transcontinental route, is one of several possible water highways linking two far-distant oceans -- in effect, the first solution to the geographical puzzle of the continent's tangled waterways. The places are still there, and the essential experiences of Mackenzie's route -- wind, waves, fog, mishaps of all kinds -- still to be had. Tracking Mackenzie to the Sea is the lively account of that journey, a celebration of the first crossing of continental North America, and of the freedom of splashing down on the lakes and rivers of Canada's vast and sparsely populated interior.

Mackenzie followed (1789) an unknown river (later named after him) to the Arctic Ocean. He discovered (1793) the Fraser River while pioneering the first overland route through the Canadian Rockies to the Pacific.

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