My name is Nancy Marguerite Anderson, and I am the author of The Pathfinder. My second book, The York Factory Express, will be published in the spring, and my third book, The Brigades, is at the editing stage.
When I wrote The Pathfinder, I learned things that threatened the destroy the heroic and historic fur trade figure that lived inside my head. But I also learned that the life he lived was complex and interesting, and the men he worked with were also interesting and complicated characters.
In the process of uncovering Alexander Caulfield Anderson’s story, I uncovered a host of stories about other men who lived in this territory west of the Rocky Mountains. I uncovered tales of tradition and hegemony, of cowardice and bravery, of deaths caused by disease, murder, cannibalism, and revenge.
I also uncovered journals that told the stories of the long and difficult journeys these Hudson’s Bay Company men made. My next book, The York Factory Express, will tell you the stories of the gentlemen who traveled every year from Fort Vancouver to Red River or Norway House. Most of these gentlemen returned to the Columbia district with Governor George Simpson’s orders for the following year.
But The York Factory Express also tells you of the stories of the voyageurs who made this journey. In fact, it was their work that made this journey possible, and it is their stories, and their traditions, that form the basis of this book. All these men — both gentlemen and voyageurs — are the ancestors to all the peoples who call themselves Metis. This is who we are.
In future books I write about the brigades and the brigade trails. Again, all of our ancestors rode over the rough trails that connected Fort St. James and Kamloops with Fort Vancouver, on the lower Columbia River. In later years, new trails connected Kamloops with Fort Langley, on the lower Fraser River. To reach Fort Langley, these men traveled over trails that Alexander Caulfield Anderson explored, with the help of the First Nations people who lived in the territory.
Riding over these brigade trails to Fort Langley was a common experience of the 3,000 men who worked in the fur trade West of the Rocky Mountains before 1858. It was also the story of the many Red River Metis who crossed the mountains to work for the HBC in the Columbia district, and who never left the territory.
More than that, these books also tell the stories of the First Nations people who the men of the York Factory Express met, and described. And they also tell the stories of the First Nations men who worked with the HBC west of the Rocky Mountains, and who showed them their trails. Blackeye was one of these men, as was Blackeye’s son, and Tsilaxistsa, and Pahallak, and many more.
I fell into all of these stories, and now I can’t get out.
I hope that you, too, will find these stories fascinating. They are our stories, and yours, and they should not be forgotten.
Note: If at any time you are unable to purchase a copy of The Pathfinder, or if you want to buy a copy from the author rather than through Amazon, I still have copies available and will be happy to look after you.