Blackfoot Trading Party: Rocky Mtn. House

“Blackfoot Trading Party: Rocky Mountain House” Oil, 18” x 42”

Pat McDonald in his book Where the River Brought Them, states: “There is some doubt as to who actually built the first North West fort. J.B. Tyrrell states that it was built by John MacDonald of Garth in 1802. Morton, the respected historian of early Canada, does not even mention MacDonald in connection with the founding of the fort in his book, History of the Canadian West, but insists that a man named Angus Shaw built the rudiments of the first fort. Morton goes on to say that Duncan McGillivray took charge of the Rocky Mountain House fort. “In the autumn of 1800, as David Thompson, who had come to winter at Rocky Mountain House reports: ‘Mr. Duncan M’Gillivray came and wintered also, to prepare to cross the mountains.’ It was the beginning of what may be called the North West Company’s Columbian Enterprise.”

It was also speculated, and there is some evidence that David Thompson and Charlotte Small, having been newly married in June of 1799, might have lived across the river from the fort at Kneau’s log cabin. Perhaps the fort was not finished, and David, with his new bride, might have thought it safer to be on the other side of the river until perhaps such time as married quarters were provided.

Sharon Cross 2014