E VEN while Vancouver was making discoveries on the western coast of North America, Alexander Mackenzie, an enthusiastic young Scotsman, was making discoveries on behalf of the North-Western Company, which was rivaling the old Hudson Bay Company in its work of expansion. His journey right across America from sea to sea is worthy of note, and it has well been said that "by opening intercourse between Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and forming regular establishments through the interior and at both extremes, as well as along the coasts and islands, the entire command of the fur trade of North America might be obtained. To this may be added the fishing in both seas and the markets of the four quarters of the globe."
Mackenzie had already explored the great river flowing through North America to the Arctic seas in 1789. He had brought back news of its great size, its width, its volume of water, only to be mistrusted, till many years later it was found that every word was true, and tributes were paid not only to his general accuracy, but to his general intelligence as an explorer.
In 1792 he started off again, and this time he discovered the immense country that lay hidden behind the Rocky
The result was highly satisfactory. "The conversation dropped and the work went on."
In five days the canoe was ready and they were soon paddling happily onwards towards the sea, where the Indians told him he would find white men building houses. They reached the coast some three weeks later. The Salmon River, as it is called, flows through British Columbia and reaches the sea just north of Vancouver Island, which had been discovered by Vancouver the year before.
Alexander Mackenzie had been successful. Let us hear the end of his tale: "I now mixed up some vermilion in melted grease, and inscribed in large characters, on the south-east face of the rock on which we had slept last night, this brief memorial—'Alexander Mackenzie, from Canada, by land, the twenty-second of July, one thousand seven hundred and ninety three.'"