Every March between 1826 and 1854, the York Factory Express began its journey from the Hudson's Bay Company's headquarters on the Pacific Ocean, from which the express-men would paddle their boats up the Columbia River to the base of the Rocky Mountains at Boat Encampment, a thousand miles to the east. At Jasper's House they were 3,000 feet above sea level. Their river route would then return them to salt water once more, at York Factory, on the shores of Hudson Bay. It was an amazing climb and an amazing descent, and they would do a similar climb and descent on their journey home to the mouth of the Columbia. The stories of the York Factory Express and of the Saskatchewan Brigades, which they joined at Edmonton House, are told in the words of the Scottish traders and clerks who wrote the journals. However, the voyageurs who made the journey possible are the invisible, unnamed Canadiens, Orkney-men, Iroquois, and their Métis children and grand-children, who powered the boats back and forth across the continent every year. But these men left no written records. If the traders had not preserved the stories the voyageurs told them, we would not know this history today—as it is portrayed in THE YORK FACTORY EXPRESS.
“A marvelous account of the York Factory Express, a rapid communication route that connected Hudson Bay to the Pacific coast and back again — making the fur trade a continental enterprise half a century before Canadian Confederation.” — Richard Mackie, Editor and Publisher, The British Columbia Review
Nancy Marguerite Anderson fell into the stories of the pre-gold rush history of the territory west of the Rocky Mountains when she researched her great-grandfather's writings. Her first book, The Pathfinder, (Heritage House Publishing, 2011) told the story of Alexander Caulfield Anderson's life in the Hudson's Bay Company and of his experiences in the early colonial history of British Columbia. Many of these stories are told on Nancy's blog. She makes her home in Victoria.