Date of Issue
April 22, 1994
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
This 2,000 km-long river begins at Columbia Lake in south-eastern BC, not far from Calgary, and empties into the Pacific at the Washington-Oregon border in the USA. A mighty river, the Columbia is the largest river flowing into the Pacific from North America. By the late 1700s, several European nations were engaged in the fur trade along the Oregon coast. Spaniard Bruno de Heceta initially discovered the mouth of this great river in 1775. Then on May 11, 1782 Boston skipper Captain Robert Gray entered it and named it after his ship, the "Columbia", establishing a American claim to a river some doubted existed. Learning of this, Captain George Vancouver dispatched his second in command to make a British claim for those inland waters which he asserted had not previously been entered. The 1805 Lewis and Clark overland expedition to the Pacific strengthened the American claim, but David Thompson of the NWT in 1881 descended the Columbia. A third party in the person of John Jacob Astor was also interested in the Columbia River. After despatching his first trade vessel to China in 1800, he envisaged a triangular trade route between the Pacific Coast, China and New York. When the NWC declined his offer of a one-third share, he hired some of their employees and founded the Pacific Fur Company. Sending one party overland and another by sea, Astor won the race. When Davis Thompson's NWC crew reached the mouth on July 15, 1881, they found their rivals established at Fort Astoria. The outbreak of war in 1812 created a strange turn of events. The NWC sent 100 men to lay siege to Astoria. The Astorians, former NWC employees, were uncomfortable defending an American fortress. Finally in 1813 commander Duncan McDougall decided to sell the fort ti the invaders. The bargain ended Astor's holdings. Following the merger of NWC and HBC, the company built Fort Vancouver, opposite present day Portland to serve as headquarters in the Northwest. But the Oregon Treaty of 1846 ended the HBC's activities in the area, although it kept its mainland territory north of the 49th parallel.
Canada Post Corporation. Canada's Stamps Details, Vol. 3, No. 2, 1994, p. 14-15.
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