The West Parry Sound District Museum, commonly known as the Museum on Tower Hill, began as a group of dedicated citizens. Today the Museum continues to preserve and interpret the core cultural themes that carved the West Parry Sound District out of a rugged Canadian landscape and explores contemporary topics relevant to today's communities.
Parry Sound's Fur Trade
PD-Canada: David Thompson (1770-1857) Canadian cartographer and explorer
An integral part of the fur trade, David Thompson began a lucrative career with the Hudson's Bay Company at age 14, hunting game, establishing new posts, and compiling accounts and journals for the Company.
While recuperating from a broken leg in 1788, Thompson's curiosity in astronomy and surveying was cultivated under the official surveyor of the Hudson's Bay Company, Philip Turnor. During this time, Thompson polished his skills in taking and recording astronomical observations and calculating latitude and longitude. It is these skills, used throughout his career with the Hudson's Bay Company and rival Northwest Company, that allowed Thompson to become one of the most accredited Western historical cartographers.
In total, Thompson travelled more than 55, 000 miles (90,000 kilometres), surveying the border of Upper and Lower Canada, crossing the Rocky Mountains, and surveying a portion of the Canada-US boundary. Whether by horseback, canoe, dog sled, or on foot, Thompson's documented travels provide us with insight into the fur trade, the different aboriginal cultures he encountered, and the ecosystem of the West.
Despite this feat, like most prominent figures of history, Thompson's legacy was not recognised during his lifetime. Thompson died in near obscurity and in complete bankruptcy in 1857, but nearly 160 years later, he can be seen as one of North America's greatest geographers.
To learn more about the fur trade visit the Museum on Tower Hill's new exhibition Parry Sound's Fur Trade.
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