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Rocky Mountain House June 5th, 2019

After long anticipation, we are launched.
Squirreled away in the Rocky Express Inn but dining in the Dragon Palace next door at the end of a difficult weather drive.

First, Wayne had to slug it through late season snow over the Kicking Horse to get from the coast. Then we had to leave the Calgary mother ship – so everything we might need had to be in the car. As if! But it feels like it – particularly on the electronics front. Because we’re attempting a video blog of this quest to follow David Thompson, we’ve stocked up on gear. That increases potential complications and accentuates risk that some key unanticipated component is not on board.

But rolling up Highway 22 north of Cochrane, concerns fade away despite the cold and rain. Even when we got turned around and exited Sundre to Bearberry – coming to the end of the pavement was our final clue we were on a minor road – enthusiasm was undiminished for a journey in abeyance so long.

David Thompson is a singular figure in Canadian history. He has held the interest of my esteemed travelling companion [and brother in law] Wayne Biggs for many years. My involvement was kindled maybe 20 years ago when Wayne lent me a summary of Thompson’s Narratives.

I was riveted by such a fresh clear voice coming over the ages from first contact – early 1800s.

  • Thompson visiting an Indian tent early in his tenure in Hudson’s Bay when a polar bear noses in. The husband panics and climbs up the tent poles. The doughty squaw faces off against the bear and beats it on the snout until it backs out. Then she takes the stick after the cowardly husband!
  • Thompson 300 miles from Cumberland House, standing up in the tail of a freighter canoe to see better over an edge in the river when he goes over the falls. His 2 guides are on shore but everything is lost – save his precious sextant, a patch of tent fabric and a pittance of supply. Emerging from the water, he looks down at his sore foot. The skin of the sole has been peeled back by a rock. Notwithstanding those deprivations, he and the guides make it back to Cumberland.
  • And so many more. But we’ll get to those as we roll along…

Such presence, clarity and purpose propelled him over 15000 miles of the Canadian West and the Pacific North West. So many firsts, culminating in the first maps of most of that territory, carefully compiled and accurate to within feet. And, although a fur trader first and foremost, an acute observer and assiduous reporter from the frontiers of experience. Equipped with a compulsion to go on, and on, further and further away from the known world. And to come back.

So I was hooked. That genesis has been kept aflame by Wayne over these many years – coming to a head when he called in the spring and proposed we retrace Thompson’s route over the mountains and down the Columbia. What do you say? You say “Yes!”.

Now we’re underway, fussing with cameras and microphones, but full of fire for the quest. If you’re not on my travel blog now and want to follow along, please hit reply and Suzan will put you in line to receive our dispatches. Should be lots of fun in store and I’m sure you’ll gain some appreciation for a genuine original in David Thompson. Otherwise, I won’t trouble you.

The YouTube Channel should follow once we get some kinks worked out.

See you in the Howse Pass…


Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

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Bringing out the best in you, your company and your people.

Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


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