Mackenzie's Rock / With a map showing the course followed by the explorer from Bella Coola, B.C., to the Rock, and illustrated with views along the route. - R.P. Bishop. - Booklet. - 1923.

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Database ID24645
InstitutionUniversity of Saskatchewan Libraries Special Collections
Fonds/CollectionCanadiana Pamphlets Collection
File/Item ReferenceXIII-196-SirAlex (13a)
Date of creation1923
Physical description/extent1 booklet; 32 pages of textual records
Number of images32
Historical noteSir Alexander MacKenzie was born in Stornoway on the isle of Lewis in Outer Hebrides, Scotland in 1764. In 1774 his family moved to New York, and then to Montreal in 1776 during the American Revolution. In 1779 he obtained a job with the North West Company, on whose behalf he traveled to Lake Athabasca and founded Fort Chipewyan in 1788. He was sent to replace Peter Pond, a partner in the North West Company. From Pond he learned that the First Nations people understood that the local rivers flowed to the northwest. Acting on this information he set out by canoe and discovered the MacKenzie River on July 10, 1789, following it to its mouth in the hope of finding the Northwest Passage to the Pacific Ocean. Although he ended up discovering the Arctic Ocean, he named the river "Disappointment River" as it did not lead to Cook Inlet in Alaska as he had expected. The river was later renamed in his honour.In 1791 he traveled to the United Kingdom to study the new advances in the measurement of longitude. Upon his return in 1792 he set out once again to find a route to the Pacific. Accompanied by Native guides and French voyageurs, Mackenzie left Fort Fork following the route of the Peace River. He found the upper reaches of the Fraser River and following its course, reached the Pacific coast of Canada on July 20, 1793. Thus, he completed the first recorded transcontinental crossing of North America by a European north of Mexico, in the process crossing the Continental Divide. He arrived at Bella Coola (now BC), where he first reached saltwater at South Bentinck Arm, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean. He had wanted to continue westward out of an apparent desire to encounter the open Ocean, but was turned back by the hostility of the Nuxalk nation, who were suspicious of Europeans, after negative encounters with marine fur traders. At his westernmost point (July 22, 1793), hemmed in by Nuxalk war canoes, he inscribed "Alex MacKenzie from Canada by land 22d July 1793" on a rock using a reddish paint made of vermilion and bear grease, and turned around to return to "Canada". The rock, near the water's edge, still bears his words, which were permanently inscribed later by surveyors. The site is now a provincial park. He died on 11 March 1820.
Scope and contentBooklet on Captain Bishop's efforts to locate the rock which was the westernmost point reached by Sir Alexander Mackenzie during his 1793 expedition into what is now British Columbia.
Restrictions on accessThere are no restrictions on access.
ContributerBishop, R.P. (author)
Copyright holderPublic domain
Copyright expiry datePublic domain
Other terms governing use and reproductionResponsibility regarding questions of copyright that may arise in the use of any images is assumed by the researcher.
Primary MediaTextual documents
Specific document typesPamphlets
Provenance Access PointUniversity of Saskatchewan Library. Canadiana Pamphlets Collection
Other notesCanadian National Parks Historic Sites Series No. 6.
PlaceBella Coola, British Columbia, Canada
Treaty boundariesNo treaty
Cultural regionNorthwest Coast
NamesBishop, R.P.
Mackenzie, Sir Alexander
SubjectCrown Lands
Early European Settlers
Transportation -- Ships and Boats
Date Range(s)1650-1749
Permanent Link