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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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David Thompson: “Star-Gazer”

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

One of the best things that ever happened to the famous BC explorer David Thompson was when a large log rolled from a sleigh and crushed his leg.  All things really did work for the good through that tragedy (Romans 8:28).  His broken leg gave him time to learn math, science, and instruments of surveying, how to keep field notes and journal-keeping.  As a result, David Thompson learned the necessary skills which enabled him to put Western Canada on the map.

The early 19th century Western Canada map was essentially blank until Thompson filled it in.  Thompson was one of the master-builders of Canada and possibly the greatest geographer the world has known. As a land geographer, Thompson was the peer of Captain James Cook, the great sea geographer of the oceans.  Thompson has been described as a great surveyor disguised as a fur trader, as a marvelous scientist with the sensitive soul of a prophet.

By his own initiative and industry, he explored and surveyed more than a million and a half square kilometres of wilderness, accomplishing the staggering feat of mapping half a continent. Even Alexander Mackenzie, the renowned explorer, was quite astounded and remarked that Thompson had performed more in ten months than he expected could have been done in two years.  Thompson’s map, his greatest achievement, was so accurate that 100 years later it remained the basis for many of the maps issued by the Canadian government and the railway companies.  We can even credit David Thompson with the exacting survey of much of the Canadian/US 49th Boundary.

Thompson’s written ‘Travels Journal’ shows his multifaceted gifts as scientific explorer, geographer, cartographer, and naturalist.  Some scholars have described Thompson’s Journal as one of the finest works in Canadian literature.  His directness in prose, his modesty and ability to see himself and others, his sharp powers of observation and intense practicality all contribute to a vivid glimpse of early Canadian pioneering. His account of his adventures has also been described as one of the world’s greatest travel books.

When David was only two years old, his father died and his mother moved to London, changing their Welsh name ApThomas to the more easily spoken Thompson.  When David moved to Canada, he never saw either his family or London town again.  In his journal, David wrote movingly of a ‘long and sad farewell to my noble, my sacred country, an exile for ever’.

Thompson the Canadian immigrant grew to love ‘the forest and the white water, the shadow and the silence, the evening fire, the stories and the singing and a high heart.’  He was modest, talented and deeply spiritual.  The First Nations people gave him the name Koo-Koo-Sint, which means ‘Star-Gazer’, in recognition of his star-based map work.  It wasn’t that he was a starry-eyed dreamer, but rather a dedicated scientist using the best mapping technology of his day.

David Thompson apprenticed with the Hudson’s Bay Company, but later switched to the competitors, the North West Company, because the Hudson’s Bay Company wanted him to focus on furs, not map-making. The North West Company appointed Thompson as their official ‘Surveyor and Map Maker’, and proudly displayed his finished map of Canada on their boardroom wall.

Thompson’s brother-in-law, John McDonald, considered Thompson a good trader, a fearless traveler, and a man who was liked and respected by the First Nations.  His few criticisms of his brother-in-law had to do with his spirituality, his passion for surveying, and his total unwillingness to drink or to sell liquor when dealing with customers.  Thompson had seen so many First Nations people harmed by the liquor trade that he had acquired a strong aversion to such profiteering.

Unlike many Nor-Westers, Thompson did not abandon his wife Charlotte and his family when he finally became wealthy.  David and Charlotte Thompson, who had seven sons and six daughters, were only parted by his death fifty-eight years after their marriage.

Thompson tried in vain for years to find a profitable trade route to the Pacific.  Upon hearing that the American Jacob Astor had sent out his sea and land expedition to the Oregon country, the Canadians sent David Thompson to try once again.  Thompson and his voyageurs bravely made their way down the Columbia River.  They were continually wet up to the middle, and exposed to cold highwinds.  The glacier water deprived them of all feeling in their limbs.  Despite such hardships, Thompson never gave up, instead writing in his Journal that they ‘continued under the mercy of the Almighty and at sunset put up, each of us thankful for our preservation’.

When they finally reached the Pacific watershed, Thompson knelt on the banks of the Blueberry Creek and prayed aloud: ‘May God in his mercy give me to see where these waters flow into the ocean, and let us return in safety.’  He and his voyageurs eventually did make it to the mouth of the Columbia River, but unfortunately arrived there after Jacob Astor.  One can speculate that if David Thompson had been a little quicker, the name ‘British Columbia’ might have been a more accurate description of our province.

Despite Thompson’s great success in canoeing to the mouth of the Columbia and in mapping most of Western Canada, he died in extreme poverty and obscurity, even having to pawn his beloved surveying equipment and his overcoat to buy food for his family.  Yet throughout the hardships, Thompson never stopped gazing at the Morning Star, Jesus Christ.  I give thanks for David Thompson the Star-Gazer who did so much for every one of us as Canadians and British Columbians.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News and the Light Magazine

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Street, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.


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Captain James Cook: World Explorer

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Sometimes I ask myself: Why is English now spoken by hundreds of millions of people in virtually every country of the world?  Why do most people of English ancestry live anywhere but England?  Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, South Africa, etc.  Perhaps it is because as seagoing islanders, the British were insatiable searchers for that which was beyond.  From the ranks of such inexhaustible seekers emerged the greatest of the 18th century nautical explorers –Captain James Cook.  James Cook had an unbounded curiosity and a deep interest in everybody and everything with which he came into contact.

Born on October 27th, 1728 in Yorkshire, Cook’s father was an impoverished Scottish farm labourer and his mother a simple Yorkshire village woman.  Cook began his sea life by lugging coal off the treacherous east coast of England.  There he learned how to survive the storms, fogs, hidden shoals, and tricky tides.

In 1758, Cook was master of the Pembroke, a 1,250 ton, 64-gun man-of-war.  In early 1759, the Pembroke joined a blockade of the Saint Lawrence River designed to prevent French ships from carrying supplies to the fortress colony of Quebec.  Cook led patrols up and down the river, charting every hazard, and marking a channel for the warships to follow.  During the British assault on Quebec City, Cook successfully navigated the massive Pembroke up the narrow, twisting, and frequently shallow waterway.  Without the help of Ship’s Master James Cook, it is doubtful whether the British troops could have taken the fortress by surprise.  With only a few years of elementary school education, no one ever expected that a ‘nobody’ like James Cook would one day be chosen as a navy sea captain.  Since the upper class were virtually the only officers, there was little chance of promotion by merit in that caste-bound naval world.  By sure grit and determination, he taught himself mathematics and astronomy, and at age 40, was chosen as captain, an age when most naval officers had passed their peak.

After being appointed captain, Cook went on to complete three global voyages from 1768 to 1779, exploring and accurately mapping more of the earth’s surface than anyone else before or since.  He became the first European to set foot in Australia, the first to fix the position of remote places accurately, the first to establish longitude (one’s position east and west), and the first to have extensive contact with all the various peoples of the Pacific.

It can safely be said that in his time no man knew the world as well as Captain Cook, and no other explorer had such an impact on the global map.  As a result, the name of James Cook is commemorated across the length and breadth of the vast Pacific: Cook Strait and Mount Cook in New Zealand; Cooktown and Cook’s Passage in Australia; The Cook Islands in Polynesia, and Cook Inlet in Alaska.  With Cook’s discoveries and surveys, the geography of the world was nearly complete.  Only Antarctica remained to be discovered.

Upon reaching Hawaii, the islanders worshipped Captain Cook as the god Lono.  Curiously, Lono was envisioned as a white god fated to arrive on a magical floating island during the holiday of Mahahiki.  Cook’s ships’ huge sails therefore were construed to be long staffs bearing Lono’s divine white banners.  When Cook returned to Hawaii from having explored British Columbia, he upset the Hawaiians who had then turned to the season for worshipping the god of war Ku.  Things went from bad to worse, and when Cook attempted to hold the king hostage for the return of a stolen cutter, hundreds of Hawaiians converged on him with deadly effect.  To many of his crew such as the future Captain George Vancouver, losing Captain Cook was like losing their own father.

Captain James Cook as a World Explorer was not afraid to check out uncharted waters. My prayer for those reading this article is that we too as world explorers may be willing to ‘walk in the spiritual feet’ of Captain James Cook.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca