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Preface

This webpage reproduces a section of
Mackenzie of Canada
by
Mark S. Wade

published by
William Blackwood & Sons Ltd.
Edinburgh and London 1927

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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Chapter 2

 p. xi  Introduction

It is somewhat remarkable that the exploits of Alexander Mackenzie have not been more highly extolled and given wider publicity. For some inexplicable reason the man and his achievements appear to have been overlooked or forgotten save by a few historians. One turns in vain to many sources commonly resorted to for information concerning him. Many encyclopedias do not even mention his name; one such work of reference, allegedly a reliable repository of knowledge, devotes about thirty lines to him, and in that limited space succeeds in being inaccurate. Some Canadian school histories do not refer to him at all, an omission that is without excuse.

There are not wanting those who do not hesitate to claim for others the honour that rightly belongs to Mackenzie. As an instance, John Fiske, the American historian and philosopher, in his 'The Discovery of America,' published in 1892, states that the North American continent was first crossed by Lewis and Clark in 1805, totally ignoring the fact that Mackenzie anticipated that expedition by twelve years.

As the first civilised human being to descend the Mackenzie River to the Arctic Ocean, and whose eyes first rested upon that expanse of sea stretching from Icy Cape to Coronation Gulf; the first to give the world an inkling  p. xii of the existence of the Yukon River; the first to discover, and descend for a considerable distance, the Fraser River, and the first to reach the Pacific Ocean overland north of Mexico, Mackenzie merits wider recognition than has been given him.

In dealing with the subject of the man and his discoveries, the writer has divided it into several sections. The first of these gives a brief review of the early land explorations and the circumstances leading to the formation of the North‑West Company, with which concern Mackenzie was intimately associated for many years. The second section treats of his entrance into the fur trade, while the succeeding divisions are devoted to his explorations and the closing years of his life.

At the end of the narrative a list of authorities consulted is given.


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