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]...” . The great folk singer Stan Rogers must have shared this feeling, for he captures it eloquently in his song Northwest Passage:
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