Alexander Caulfield Anderson was the Hudson’s Bay Company explorer who, in the mid 1840’s, threaded his way through mountain passes and down rapid-filled rivers in search of a horse-friendly trail through the rugged country that separated the Kamloops fort from Fort Langley, on the lower Fraser River.
That was my first book, and further books will continue to explore the stories of the territory West of the Rocky Mountains before the Fraser River goldrush.
It is a period of time that people do not remember existed — but it did, and the stories are fascinating and often surprising.
In my archival research I have uncovered tales of hegemony and prejudice, of cowardice and heroism, of honesty and dishonesty, and of deaths by disease, murder, or revenge.
I write about brigades, the brigade trails, and the York Factory express to Hudson Bay and return — all common experiences of the 3,000 men who worked in the fur trade West of the Rocky Mountains before 1858.
I discovered this period of history when I researched and wrote my book about my exploring ancestor, Alexander Caulfield Anderson. He was my great-grandfather, and I wanted to know who he was. As I researched that book, I learned things that threatened to destroy the heroic and historic fur trade figure that lived inside my head.
But in the end, I loved the long journey of uncovering Alexander Caulfield Anderson, the man.
I learned, too, that the life he lived in those years was complex and interesting, and the men he worked with were also interesting and complicated characters. He worked with men like Peter Skene Ogden, James Douglas, and Sam Black — and the mysterious “Marineau” — one of my personal favorites.
The Natives, too, entered the story and played an important role in the developing of the brigade trails by Anderson River, and over the Coquihalla plateau. Blackeye and Blackeye’s son were two men who showed Anderson their trails — but Tsilaxitsa was here, as was Selixtasposem and Pahallak.
I fell into their stories, and now I can’t get out.
I hope that you, too, will find these stories fascinating. They are our stories, and they should not be forgotten.