“Furs is what brings us,” remarked an early trader in the Oregon Country, but “the difficulty of getting the necessary supplies will continue to operate against it.” An elaborate transport system of North canoes, Indian pack horses, and Columbia batteaux was devised to get supplies to the back country and furs out. First used in 1811, it became the lifeline of the fur trade of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Columbia Department until 1847, when the route was severed by the extension of the U.S.-Canadian border. The personalities, places, obstacles, and operations involved in the brigade system are all described in fascinating detail, stretch by stretch from Fort St. James ton the upper reaches of the Fraser River to Fort Vancouver on the lower Columbia River.
About the Author
James R. Gibson is a historical geographer at York University.