Open main menu

Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/215

This page needs to be proofread.

RESULTS FROM ASTOR EXPEDITIONS 207 times this expedition was at Vancouver's Island and Alaska the officers and sailors had obtained from the natives a quan- tity of furs, at trifling cost, which were used as clothing and as bedding. On the arrival of the expedition, homeward bound, at Canton, China, in 1779, what was left of these furs were sold for about two thousand pounds, sterling, a large sum of money in those days. After this expedition returned to England, the facts relating to furs on the North Pacific Coast became known and vessels, British, American and Portu- gese, engaged in the trade for many years. The Hudson's Bay and Northwest Companies. The Hudson's Bay Company was granted a Royal Charter in 1670, by King Charles II., and thereafter engaged in the fur-trade in the eastern part of what was then known as British North America. In 1784 Canadian fur- traders, who had been in competition with the Hudson's Bay Company, united their interests, under the name of Northwest Company of Montreal, but usually called the "Northwest Company." The latter was composed of intelligent, forceful and resolute men and took for themselves the fur-trade in the western part of British North America, and extending to the Pacific Coast, excluding the Russian-American possessions. June 17, 1793, Alexander Mackenzie, one of the partners of the Northwest Company, discovered a large river which he called Tacoutche-Tesse, from the name given it by the Indians. At the time of its discovery Mackenzie did not know of the Columbia River or its discovery. After his return to England and, at the time of the publication of his voyages, in 1801, and, until the exploration of this river to its mouth by Simon Eraser in 1808, it was supposed to be the upper part of the Columbia River. The Tacoutche-Tesse is now called Eraser River in honor of Simon Eraser. In 1805 the Northwest Company sent a party to establish its first posts west of the Rocky Mountains on the Tacoutche- Tesse and in its vicinity. By the year 1806 some of these posts were established. These were the first settlements by