David Thompson Portaging Kootenai Falls

“David Thompson Portaging Kootenai Falls”, Oil, 36” x 48”

This painting is also available as a giclee fine art reproduction on canvas.  Unframed sizes:  24” x 32” for $800; OR 36’ x 48” for $1,335

The first in this series of paintings, is of David Thompson and his three companions (Bercier, Beaulieu, and Mousseau) portaging above Kootenai Falls in Montana on May 6, 1808, having left Le Monde, (a Kootenay hunter) with his wife and children, to mind Thompson's two horses.   Joseph is thrilled that Canadian and American historians have given this painting their stamp of approval.

When Joseph hiked a portion of this shale trail, wearing sturdy hiking boots and carrying only a camera, he realized that one miscalculated footstep would mean sure peril, perhaps even death. Whereas Thompson and his companions, wearing moccasins, carrying a large canoe, and portaging all their gear across the narrow trail of the steep, shale slopes, the chances for slipping increased substantially. Joseph was so pleased to have finished painting the shale, as it was as demanding mentally as it would be to physically hike through the stuff for a week. He put the painting aside to gain some distance from it so he could look at it with fresh eyes. Like when you can't see the forest for the trees. In this case, he couldn't see the hillside for the shale. Each day afterwards he would find areas that needed highlighting and go about doing that, until something else stood out, and on and on. He has finally put his name to the painting and it is ready to be framed.

David Thompson writes of his experience in his journal:  “We began carrying at 3 ¼ PM, with light Loads & went abt 1 Mile over a terrible Road, along Side of a steep Hill nearly perpend, walking wholly among small fragments of black broken Rock that had rolled from the Summit.  Our Height at times was abt 300 feet above the River, ascending and descending as the steep Rocks obliged us; (the least slip would have been inevitable destruction, as the steepness of the Rock allowed no return, or if once falling, to stop ‘till precipitated into the River.)”

© Sharon Cross 2014