Vancouver History: The Simon Fraser Expedition

Comments 1 by Rebecca Bollwitt

I admit, I have a love/hate relationship with the Fraser River. When I have to cross it on the Pattullo, I hate it. When I watch it mix and mingle with the waters of the Thompson River at the top end of the canyon in Lytton, I love it.

Recently my sister reminded me that this year is the 200th anniversary of Simon Fraser’s Expedition. Fraser was one of the first to chart most of British Columbia, he setup the first trading posts, and explored a mighty river that cuts through the province that would later bear his name.

Photo credit: Stephen Rees on Flickr

Since the expedition that lead to the mouth of the Fraser took place in 1808 there have been recreations, celebrations and workshops all over BC this year to commemorate this journey.

The New Westminster Historical Society had events in the spring that consisted of reading quotes from Simon Fraser’s diary and journals and the Fort Langley Canoe Club recently retraced Fraser’s steps.

On August 5th, 2008: “Hope is where the Fort Langley Canoe Club voyageurs once again set to embark on their re-enactment canoe trip, to end at the Maritime Museum at Vanier Park. They were given a handshake send-off by the Mayor of Hope, Wilfried Vicktor, and the voyageurs were on their way to paddle another 175 kms.

You can read more about the trek of the present-day voyageurs on the BC Local News blog, which went far better than Fraser’s original adventure.

“… but Fraser encountered a hostile reception by the Musqueam people as he approached the lower reaches of the river at present day Vancouver. Their hostile pursuit of Fraser and his men meant that Fraser was not able to get more than a glimpse of the Strait of Georgia on July 2, 1808. A dispute with the neighbouring Kwantlen people led to a pursuit of Fraser and his men that was only broken off near present day Hope. The journey culminated in further disappointment as Fraser discovered from his readings that the river he had just navigated was not, in fact, the Columbia. The descent had taken Fraser and his crew thirty-six days.” [wiki]

Photo credit: Stephen Rees on Flickr

There are many ways to enjoy the Fraser any time, like a day trip up to Hell’s Gate, rafting, and more locally, paddlewheel trips, a walk down to the slough, or even an afternoon at Fort Langley.

To celebrate this 200th anniversary you can also take part in Rivermania in Prince George, from August 24 to September 28.

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1 Comment  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. JennyTuesday, September 2nd, 2008 — 11:33am PDT

    Thanks for sharing this! There are too many people that know too little about our BC heritage.

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