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Explorer of British Columbia, Canada, Simon Fraser

Updated on January 25, 2020

Simon Fraser Explorer in British Columbia

Simon Fraser, Explorer
Simon Fraser, Explorer

Characteristics of Explorers

It must take an extraordinary person to strive to be an explorer. Not everyone will have the necessary personality to pursue years of searching. The explorer has to have a curiosity about the unknown. They have to be almost an introvert because family relationships will prove to be complicated, so they might decide to avoid relationships. After all, they might be gone for years while on their search.

They will have to be able to adapt to whatever environment comes their way. They must be risk-takers and focus on the tasks at hand and the courage to deal with hardships and the men they command.

Fraser River, British Columbia

Fraser River, British Columbia
Fraser River, British Columbia

Simon Fraser Early Life

Simon Fraser was born in 1776, New York, the youngest of ten children to Simon Fraser and Isabella Grant. In 1773, the family was part of the immigration of Scottish Highlanders to America. It was long before Simon was fighting in the Battle of Bennington in 1777, New York. Unfortunately, he was captured and died while in prison.

Simon's mother, Isabella, was left with all the children, and her brother-in-law, Captain John Fraser, agreed to assist her and the family. Captain John Fraser held the position as Justice of the Montreal Division, Canada. So she and the children moved to Canada after the war ended.

By the age of fourteen, Simon was in Montreal for school when he joined two of his uncles in the fur-trading business. By 1790, he then apprenticed to the North West Company. Sometime in 1789, the North West Company commissioned Alexander MacKenzie to find a route to the Pacific Ocean.

This was not an easy task as most of the wilderness was unknown. He did discover the West Road River and the Bella Coola River that was beneficial for the fur trading, but it was not a route to the Pacific.

In 1805, Fraser began ascending the Peace River, and he established a trading post there called Rocky Mountain Portage House (today, called Hudson's Hope).

He established a fort at Trout Lake (later named Ft. McLeod). The fort would be the first permanent European settlement west of the Rockies in today's Canada.

Just like the early French fur traders of the Great Lakes, the traders mapped the area laying a foundation for settlements.

Fur Trading in Canada

Fur Trading in Canada
Fur Trading in Canada
Fur Trading with  Indigenous People
Fur Trading with Indigenous People

Trapping in Canada

Fraser spent some eleven years engaged in the fur trade with the North West Company. In 1814 he resigned, but he was assigned to the Red River Valley and somehow got caught up in a conflict with Mr. Thomas Douglas. The Hudson's Bay Company had already established the Red River.

This conflict started the Battle of Seven Oaks. In June 1816, the conflict resulted in the death of Robert Semple and nineteen others.

Although Fraser was not involved in the conflict, he was one of the men arrested by Lord Selkirk at Ft. William. The arrested were taken to Montreal but immediately free on bail. In 1817 he was back at Ft. William when the North West Company regained possession of the fort. The following year Fraser and five others were acquitted of all charges.

Eventually, the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company merged in 1821. And after forty years, the North West Company folded.

Views of Fraser River

Trip on the Fraser River

On May 28, 1808, Fraser and a group of twenty-four left Ft. George, in four canoes, is trying to reach the Pacific. The Kwantlen people tried to warn him that it would be nearly impossible to complete the river. Fraser found this to be true. He encountered some hostiles, the Musqueam People who were attacking him and his crew. By the time the expedition returned to Ft. George, the trip had taken over two months.

By the time he took his bearings, he had realized it couldn't be the Columbia River. His reading was 49 degrees, and the Columbia was at 46 degrees.

Hell's Gate on Fraser River

Hell's Gate
Hell's Gate
Hell's Gate
Hell's Gate

Hell's Gate, Fraser River

This is a dangerous part of the river. It is only 115 feet wide and challenging to pass. At one point in time, part of the river was blocked, and the local natives were upset. The block stopped the salmon from getting upriver to spawn. It continued to be a problem for some time and even today on-going problems persist.

Forts Established by Fraser

Along with the expeditions and discoveries of Simon Fraser, listed here are some of the forts he established:

Ft. McLeod 1805

Ft. St. James, 1806

Ft. Fraser, 1806

Ft. George 9today Prince George), 1807

Places Named for Fraser

Here, is a listing of places named for Simon Fraser:

The Fraser River

Fraser Lake

Ft. Fraser

Simon Fraser University, B. C.

The Simon Fraser Bridge, B. C.

CCGS Simon Fraser Canadian Coast Guard Vessel

Simon Fraser died in 1862 after exploring much of British Columbia, but his business ventures after his retirement were not beneficial, and he died rather poor after contributing so much. He was able to assist author Aonghas MacNeacail with the book Sgathach: The Warrior Queen, as the illustrator. The book is out of print at this time.

CCSG Simon Fraser Vessel

CCSG Fraser Vessel
CCSG Fraser Vessel

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