James Douglas’s story is one of high adventure in pre-Confederation Canada. It weaves through the heart of Canadian and Pacific Northwest history when British Columbia was a wild land, Vancouver didn’t exist, and Victoria was a muddy village.
Part black and illegitimate, Douglas was born in British Guiana (now Guyana) in 1803 to a Scottish plantation owner and a mixed-race woman. After schooling in Scotland, the fifteen-year-old Douglas sailed to Canada in 1819 to join the fur trade. With roads non-existent, he travelled thousands of miles each year, using the rivers and lakes as his highways. He paddled canoes, drove dogsleds, and snowshoed to his destinations.
Douglas became a hard-nosed fur trader, married a part-Cree wife, and nearly provoked a war between Britain and the United States over the San Juan Islands on the West Coast. When he was in his prime, he established Victoria and secrured the western region of British North America from the Russian Empire and the expansionist Americans. Eventually, Douglas became the controversial governor of the Colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia and oversaw the frenzied Fraser and Cariboo gold rushes.
Julie H. Ferguson is the author of Sing a New Song: Portraits of Canada's Crusading Bishops(2006), Through a Canadian Periscope: The Story of the Canadian Submarine Service (1995), and eleven other books, including five for writers and teacher.
Not only is Julie a successful author, sh eis also an accomplished speaker and trainer. Since 1997, many of western Canada's school districts have invited her back time and again to present at their professional development events to to lead lively writing workshops fo rtheir gifted, regular, and special education students. Julie delights in inspiring participants in boys-only English classes and aboriginal students to improve their writing. Currently, she lives in Port Moody, British Columbia, near Vancouver. Visit her at www.beaconlit.com.
"Julie Ferguson has made the life of James Douglas and the fur trade exceedingly readable. I was surprised to find myself treating this book as something of a page-turner. Douglas life was certainly interesting and complex in and of itself, but Ferguson handles the material in a way that makes it even more captivating."
"...a first rate biography and thematic history. Strongly recommended for middle school and up."