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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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Over 1,100 visitors yesterday

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Motherhood and Apple Pie

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351

Home page

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345

Florence Nightingale: Mother of Nursing

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145

Alexander Graham Bell: Inventing the future

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36

Sir Alexander Fleming: Countless Millions Saved

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28

Dr. James Naismith: Father of Basketball

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25

My Fair Lady

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16

Thomas Edison: Let There Be Light….

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Simon Fraser: Canada’s most successful failure

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13

The Passion of Louis Riel

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9

Other posts

134

Total views of posts on your blog

1,117

Yesterday was the most traffic on my blog since I started in just over two years. For the first time, over 1,100 people dialed in to read the 383 postings.  Most of these postings are newspaper articles that I have written over the past twenty-five years for the Deep Cove Crier and the North Shore News. During this past month of October, my blog had for the first time over 25,000 visitors. The first month of the blog in August 2009, I had just over 1,000 visitors. So there has been a 25-fold increase in internet traffic to the site.  Thank you so much for your continued interest and support.

Also, as of yesterday, the blog has now had 275,000+ visitors.  Here are the favorite articles viewed for the past 30 days.  You can read any of them right now by just clicking on the name of a particular article. Your feedback is most welcome.  Without readers, writing is not quite the same:

Home page

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8,073

Motherhood and Apple Pie

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5,974

Florence Nightingale: Mother of Nursing

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3,602

Alexander Graham Bell: Inventing the future

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773

Thomas Edison: Let There Be Light….

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597

My Fair Lady

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503

Sir Alexander Fleming: Countless Millions Saved

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430

Simon Fraser: Canada’s most successful failure

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393

Queen Victoria and Sir James Simpson

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370

Dr. James Naismith: Father of Basketball

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359

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.

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Sir Alexander Mackenzie the Scottish Bulldog

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Sir Alexander Mackenzie ranks as one of the most remarkable persons of North American wilderness history and, indeed, as one of the greatest travelers of all time.  His transcontinental crossing predated (and indeed inspired) the more famous Lewis and Clark American expedition by twelve years.  Even Bernard De Voto, the well-known Utah-born historian said of Mackenzie, “In courage, in the faculty of command, in ability to meet the unforeseen with resources of craft and skill, in the will that cannot be overborne, he has had no superior in the history of American exploration.”

Mackenzie realized the dream of a Canada stretching from sea to sea.  Beneath the lion and the unicorn supporting the coat of arms of Canada are the Latin words: A MARI USQUE AD MARE, taken from a Biblical text, ‘He shall have dominion also from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth. Without Alexander Mackenzie (and his Nor’Wester friends Simon Fraser and David Thompson), Canada would have lost her entire Pacific Coast, being shut off from any access to the sea.

In 1764, Alexander Mackenzie was born in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, a windswept, rugged island in the Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland.  When Alexander was ten, his mom died.  Neighbours, knowing he had memorized long passages from the Bible, predicted that Alexander would become a clergyman. Through the local pastor’s library, he learned about astronomy and the use of telescopes.  At age 13, Alexander tabulated all the animal and plant life in the Hebrides, and he and his pastor tried unsuccessfully to get it published in London.

To escape the grinding poverty, his family, like thousands of other Highlanders, moved to the New World, only to become caught up in the American Revolution.  His father, like Simon Fraser’s dad, joined a United Empire Loyalist regiment near New York, before escaping with his family to Montreal. In those days, every one of Montreal’s 4000 inhabitants was involved in some way with the fur trade.  To young Alexander Mackenzie, the Montreal-based North West Company fur trade signified adventure, a chance to travel and explore new territory.

The heart of the fur industry was the voyageurs, who were the heroes and athletes of the 18th century.  As with the NHL, a voyageur was an old man at forty and forced to retire.

 

A good voyageur paddled 40 strokes to the minute and could keep up that pace from dawn to dusk with brief stops.  They had the reputation of being the finest canoeists in the world, who could travel anywhere.  Most of the North West Company’s 1,100 voyageurs were Canadians, which in those days meant that they were Quebec-born francophones.  The Northwest Company brought together a unique blend of Canadians and Scots like Simon Fraser and Alexander Mackenzie.  At the height of the North West Company, it had eight times as many men in Western Canada as the more cautious Hudson’s Bay Company.

While looking for the Pacific Ocean, Mackenzie discovered and charted the largest river in Canada, the 2,500-mile long Mackenzie River .  He reached the Arctic Ocean on July 14th, 1789 –the same day as the angry Paris mobs stormed the French Bastille. Mackenzie was so heartbroken over ending up at the wrong ocean that he named his river ‘The River of Disappointment.’  The Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin renamed it the Mackenzie River.  Over 200 years later, there are 11 different places named after Alexander Mackenzie in BC and the North West Territories, including the Mackenzie Delta, the Mackenzie Mountains, the Mackenzie Highway, and the Sir Alexander Mackenzie Provincial Park.

Mackenzie the Scottish Bulldog was above all things resilient.  Rather than give up his Pacific quest, he went to England to improve his knowledge of astronomy and geography.  Upon returning to Canada, Mackenzie once again struck out towards the Pacific Ocean, known by some First Nations as the ‘Stinking Lake’.  This time he traveled down the Peace River and the Parsnip River before trekking the final distance over the ‘Grease Trail’, traveled by the First Nations for countless generations.  Once again his victory was bitter-sweet. Yes, he had succeeded in reaching Bella Coola on the Pacific Ocean.  But like Simon Fraser, he too had discovered a route that was useless as a fur-trading canoe highway.

Following his two epic journeys to the Arctic and the Pacific Oceans, Mackenzie wrote an instant best-selling book called Voyages.  His book was so popular with the English and Germans that the publisher could not print enough copies to keep up with the demand.  During this time, he went back to England, became friendly with the Prince of Wales, and was knighted by his father King George IV.  That winter and spring, Sir Alexander was the most popular man in London. No social event was considered a success unless he attended it.

Between his book sales and his fur trading, Mackenzie became one of Canada’s wealthiest men. He even spent a brief period in Canadian politics which ‘bored him to tears’.  He also founded his own fur-trading ‘XY Company’ and tried unsuccessfully to do a corporate takeover of the failing Hudson’s Bay Company.

Few people in Canada realize that Mackenzie was an unwitting ‘accomplice’ in Napoleon’s planned re-conquest of Canada.  Napoleon had Mackenzie’s book smuggled from England and translated into French.  Mackenzie’s description of the Western Canada river system was so precise that Napoleon had set up a scheme during the War of 1812 to use Mackenzie’s book to invade Canada.  Canada would be conquered by a surprise attack from New Orleans, up the Mississippi River.  Fortunately for Canada, Napoleon ended up invading Moscow rather than Ottawa.

My prayer is that Jesus may raise up many more Alexander Mackenzies, people with bull-dog persistence, inexhaustible energy, and insatiable curiosity.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

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

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.

– 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 


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Simon Fraser: Canada’s most successful failure

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

A number of years ago, my middle son Mark graduated from Simon Fraser University in Chemistry.  SFU was named in 1963 by Leslie Peterson, the Provincial Minister of Education, because SFU overlooks the very river where Simon Fraser made his historic journey to the Pacific Coast.

My earliest memory of SFU was walking through the beautiful new plazas in the 1960’s, and then hearing about the student protests that paralyzed the university.  One of the most puzzling demands of the students was that SFU be renamed Louie Riel University.  What is it about Simon Fraser the Explorer that seems to both repel and attract people?  Why is it that he is the least well known of all Canadian explorers?

 The Greater Vancouver Book holds that Simon Fraser could be called the founding father of British Columbia because he built the first colonial trading posts west of the Rockies. Fraser, however, is best known for his bold exploration of the great river which bears his name.  On the Canadian Peace Tower in Ottawa is the verse “He shall have dominion from sea to sea” (Psalm 72:8) By Simon Fraser’s heroic journey to the Pacific Coast, he made it possible for the Dominion of Canada to stretch from sea to sea. Fraser’s was the third expedition to span the continent of North America: after Alexander Mackenzie and Lewis & Clarke.  Simon Fraser felt like a total failure when he reached the Pacific Coast.  Yet his remarkable quest kept Canada from remaining land-locked at the Alberta border.  Simon Fraser was one of the most successful failures that Canada has ever known.

Descended from a well-known Scottish Highland family, the Lovat Frasers, Simon ‘Jr.’ was the youngest son of Simon Fraser of Culbokie and Isabel Grant of Duldreggan.  In September 1773 the family joined a celebrated migration of Highlanders who travelled to America on the SS Pearl to seek their fortunes in the New World. In 1775, the year before the birth of their ninth child Simon, the first shots in the American Revolution were fired.  Simon’s Pro-British father was captured at the Battle of Bennington.  Every time he and his older son refused to join the rebels, his wife was fined another farm animal.  Simon Sr. died  thirteen months later from harsh treatment as a prisoner in the Albany jail.  Mrs. Fraser fled as a United Empire Loyalist with her family to Canada in 1784.

When Simon turned 16, his Uncle John Fraser, a Montreal judge found him a seven-year clerical apprenticeship with the famous North West Company of Montreal.  In 1793 Simon was sent to the Athabascan wilderness to learn his trade at the secluded Peace River posts. By 1802 he was selected as one of the company’s youngest partners.

In 1805 Simon was chosen for the important role of expanding the company’s trade to the land west of the Rocky Mountains from 1805-1808.  His mandate from the North West Company was to cross the Rockies and establish trading relations with the Indigenous people in the interior of what is now British Columbia, but which Fraser named New Caledonia. According to family tradition, Fraser selected the name New Caledonia because the country reminded him of his mother’s description of Caledonia, the ancient Roman name for the Scottish Highlands.  Between 1805 and 1807 Fraser set up the first four forts west of the Rockies at McLeod, Stuart and Fraser Lakes and Fort George, making himself the pioneer of permanent settlement, in what is now the mainland of BC.

What mattered now above all else  to the Nor’Westers was the search for a route to the Pacific that would reduce the enormous cost of the long canoe-haul from Montreal.  Only then would they be able to survive the competition from the Hudson’s Bay Company with its monopoly on all shipping to England via the Hudson’s Bay area.

Photo by Stephen Rees

On May 22, 1808, Fraser left Fort George (Modern-day Prince George) with two clerks, John Stuart and Jules Quesnel, 19 voyageurs and two Indian guides.  Simon Fraser named his lead canoe, Perseverance, which was also  the motto of the North West Company and one of the greatest strengths of the Scottish people.  Fittingly, Fraser wrote at the worst of his Fraser River journey: “Our situation is critical and highly unpleasant; however we shall endeavour to make the best of it; what cannot be cured, must be endured.” As he explored one of the world’s most difficult and dangerous rivers, Fraser showed remarkable courage, stamina, and firmness tempered with restraint. In the midst of enormous strain, he never lost his temper nor acted unfairly.

Simon Fraser travelled during the springtime flood, the most dangerous time of the year on the Fraser.  After surviving numerous near-drownings and upset canoes, Fraser was at last persuaded that it was impossible to make the entire journey by water.  ‘Our situation was really dangerous’, Fraser wrote on June 5th, ‘being constantly between steep and high banks where there was no possibility of stopping the canoe.’  At the Black Canyon, they were forced to follow native guides as they climbed jagged cliffs using intricate scaffolds, bridges and ladders hundreds of feet above the raging water.  One missed step would be their last.  Simon Fraser commented in his journal: “I have been for a long period among the Rocky Mountains, but have never seen anything to equal this country, for I cannot find words to describe our situation at times.  We had to pass where no human beings should venture.”  Every bend threatened new dangers –perilous rapids, treacherous portages, and impassible whirlpools.

Despite incurring a serious groin injury, Fraser completed the journey in 36 days (May 28th-July 2nd) and made the return trip in one day less (July 3rd to August 6th). He and his voyageurs had travelled more than a 1,000 miles of uncharted territory on the largest salmon-spawning river in the world.

Sadly this greatest adventure of his life won him little fame and less reward, for the Fraser River was useless as a canoe Highway for fur traders. Even worse, this river which Fraser so successfully navigated turned out not to be the prized Columbia, but rather an unknown river which fellow Nor’wester David Thompson would later name the Fraser River.  Before Fraser died in poverty and obscurity in 1862, he learned of the BC Gold rush with hundreds of prospectors rushing up the Fraser River, past the Fraser Valley, and through the Fraser Canyon.

Over two hundred years later, I give thanks to God for the perseverance of Simon Fraser who ‘ran with perseverance the race marked out for him’. (Hebrews 12:1)  May Jesus strengthen us this day to never, ever, ever give up in our journeys of life.

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

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