The North West Company gave Simon Fraser (1776-1862) the task of exploring a river believed to be the Columbia to its ocean outlet. The goal was to discover a trade route to the Pacific. It is ironic that this river which Fraser so successfully navigated turned out not to be the Columbia, but rather an unknown river which fellow Nor’wester David Thompson would later name the Fraser River. It is to this voyage that Simon Fraser owes his fame.
On May 28, 1808, Fraser and a company of 23 men set out from Fort George to follow the river to the Pacific. Their harrowing journey, 520 miles in length and 36 days long, revealed both the ruggedness of the British Columbia interior and the courage of those who traversed it. Their expedition culminated in Fraser’s discovery of the mouth of the river at Musqueam.
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