Friday, January 27, 2006

Early Insights: 1857 - 1859 Expeditions

Click to see larger imageBy the close of the fifth decade of the nineteenth century both Britons and British subjects in Canada West wanted a more detailed picture of western terrain than had hitherto been made available to the public by the Hudson's Bay Company. This desire arose as the time approached for the fur-trade monopoly to apply to the British parliament for a renewal of its charter: unsurprisingly, Parliament, like the expansionists in Canada West, wanted to know once and for all just what the company was being permitted a monopoly to control; thus, virtually simultaneously in 1857, the parliamentarians and the colonists commissioned survey expeditions of the West. Known today respectively as the Palliser (British) and the Hind (Canadian) surveys, the two expeditions overlapped very little of the country they charted and assessed...

- From "AESTHETIC MAPPINGS OF THE WEST BY THE PALLISER AND HIND SURVEY EXPEDITIONS, 1857-1859" by I.S. MacLaren

The image at the top of this post was drawn by John Fleming (1836-1876), a colonial land surveyor and draughtsman as well as the [Hind]expedition's artist. It shows Pembina as it was seen by Fleming in 1857. If you follow this link, you will find a summary of the expeditions, with fascinating insights into what the participants found, including 'tropical' like greenery and rain, after which 'clouds' of insects descended. Can you say, mosquitos?!