Having grown up in western Canada, I have crossed the paths traveled by Canada's great explorers on more than one occasion and have sensed the spirits of such remarkable men as
Simon Fraser, Daniel Harmon, Peter Fidler, Anthony Henday, Henry Kelsey and especially David Thompson. Having walked the same ground, paddled the same waters, and ridden the
same mountains, hills and valleys, I understand the awe they must have felt.
I have wished that I was with them in those moments we read about in history books: Fraser as he explored the river which now bears his name or, Thompson as he crossed Howse Pass
or Athabasca Pass where he wrote that a “new world was before [him]...” . I have felt at times that I was born in the wrong century because I share the same
longing they did for discovery and adventure. The great folk singer Stan Rogers must have shared this feeling, for he captures it eloquently in his song Northwest Passage:
Three centuries thereafter, I take passage overland
In the footsteps of brave [Kelsey],
where his "sea of flowers" began
Watching cities rise before me, then behind me sink again
This tardiest explorer, driving hard across the plain.
And through the night, behind the wheel, the mileage clicking west
I think upon Mackenzie, David Thompson and the rest
Who cracked the mountain ramparts and did show a path for me
To race the roaring Fraser to the sea.
How then am I so different from the first men through this way?
Like them, I left a settled life, I threw it all away.
To seek a northwest passage at the call of many men
To find there but the road back home again.
Excerpts from "Northwest Passage" by Stan Rogers
This site was last updated: May 25, 2013