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Biography & Autobiography Adventurers & Explorers

The York Factory Express

Fort Vancouver to Hudson Bay, 1826-1849

by (author) Nancy Marguerite Anderson

Ronsdale Press
Initial publish date
Aug 2021
Adventurers & Explorers, Expeditions & Discoveries, Pre-Confederation (to 1867)
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2021
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Aug 2021
    List Price

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Every March between 1826 and 1854, the York Factory Express began its journey from the Hudson’s Bay Company’s headquarters on the Pacific Ocean, from which the express-men would paddle their boats up the Columbia River to the base of the Rocky Mountains at Boat Encampment, a thousand miles to the east. At Jasper’s House they were 3,000 feet above sea level. Their river route would then return them to salt water once more, at York Factory, on the shores of Hudson Bay. It was an amazing climb and an amazing descent, which they repeated on their journey home to the mouth of the Columbia.

The stories of the York Factory Express and of the Saskatchewan Brigades, which they joined at Edmonton House, are told in the words of the Scottish traders and clerks who wrote the journals. However, the voyageurs who made the journey possible are the invisible, unnamed Canadiens, Orkney-men, Iroquois, and their Métis children and grand-children, who powered the boats back and forth across the continent every year. But these men left no written records. If the traders had not preserved the stories the voyageurs told them, we would not know this history today — as it is portrayed in The York Factory Express.

About the author

Nancy Marguerite Anderson studied art, sailed the west coast, worked for the government, managed and owned a delicatessen and sold products for a natural-health company before discovering her love for writing and researching. As a descendent of fur traders who worked for the North West Company and the later Hudson's Bay Company, she is especially interested in discovering the stories of her heritage. Anderson has dedicated many years to writing this book about her great-grandfather, the fur trader and explorer Alexander Caulfield Anderson. She is descended from A.C. Anderson through his youngest son, Arthur Beattie Anderson, born in 1864. Anderson lives in Victoria, BC.

Nancy Marguerite Anderson's profile page

Editorial Reviews

The York Factory Express provides a fascinating window into the lives of a distinct group of men. Anderson peppers her story with thoughtful commentary that places the men’s experiences in the context of the times and invites thinking about the past in general.” – Canada’s History

“A marvelous account of the York Factory Express, a rapid communication route that connected Hudson Bay to the Pacific coast and back again — making the fur trade a continental enterprise half a century before Canadian Confederation.” — Richard Mackie

“Therein lies both the charm and the value of this book, sympathetic story-telling grounded in primary documents, liberally quoted to keep the reader as close as possible to the words and experiences of those who worked and travelled the York Factory Express.” – BC Studies

“The fascinating narrative is supported by excerpts from journals of six express leaders. I love reading these accounts of earlier travellers on the historic river.” - BC Review

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