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Mackenzie River

Canada's River Heritage, Routes of the Fur Traders


Mackenzie River



Date of Issue

April 22, 1994




Postal Administration



Canada's River Heritage, Routes of the Fur Traders

Series Time Span


Perforation or Dimension



Canadian Bank Note Company, Limited.


Designed by Malcolm Waddell Based on illustrations by Jan Waddell

About Stamp

Rising at the west end of Great Slave Lake, the Mackenzie River flows north-north west, and eventually empties into the Beaufort Sea at the vast, multi-channeled Mackenzie Delta. Prior to European contact the area was home to eight Indian tribes. After the confusing and erroneous findings of Captain Cook and Peter Pond (the first European to trade in the Mackenzie drainage basin) Alexander Mackenzie discovered Canada's longest river and became the first White Man to see the western Arctic Ocean. But his motives were more economic that exploratory. The North West Company desperately needed a navigable waterway to and from the Pacific Ocean to keep pace with its rival, the Hudson's Bay Company. On June 3, 1789 four canoes set out from Fort Chipewyan in search of the Pacific but on July 14 reached the Beaufort Sea instead. They returned home having discovered the "River Disappointment". It was Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin who first referred to it as the Mackenzie around 1827. The river country that Mackenzie discovered soon thereafter became the source of some of the richest, thickest animal pelts in North America. Posts were quickly built along the river and only those "in the black" survived. Fur-trade canoes were used in the early years, but after the 1821 amalgamation of the two rival companies, York boats began to appear. During the peak years of the 1850s, 11 posts were operating on the Mackenzie and its tributaries. Today, the river remains the artery of the fur trade as it exists today.
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Canada Post Corporation. Canada's Stamps Details, Vol. 3, No. 2, 1994, p. 13.

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