A History of Transportation in Canada, Volume 1: Continental by G.P. deT. Glazebrook

By G.P. deT. Glazebrook

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And Great Slave Lake up beyond the northern reaches of Hudson Bay. Taking Edmonton again as a marker, with the height of land on the east and the Rockies on the west, we have the region between these three points as the Arctic drainage basin, centring on the Athabasca River, Great Slave Lake, and the Mackenzie River. The fourth drainage basin, that of the Pacific, was undiscovered until the end of the eighteenth century. In order to find new sources of furs the French traders crossed the watershed both northward from the Ottawa and the Great Lakes, and westward in the direction of Lake Winnipeg.

Soon after the creation of the United States, John Jacob Astor began to establish his series of fur-trad ing organizations, some of which, particu larly at first, brought his activi ties well into Canadian territory. H is method for this part of the business was to appoint agents at various points and arrange for them to ship furs to New York; but in addition he made annual trips to Montreal to buy furs . From about 1788 to 1810 he spent four months in the summer and autumn of every year on these buying expeditions.

A few merchant vessels existed in 1788 when the restrictions on navigation were withdrawn, and several more were bu ilt after that date. HI At the same time as commercial vessels were being developed on the lakes two of the principal portages were improved. Up to the American Revolution the Niagara portage was on the east 36 - T RANSPORTATION IN CANADA VOLUl\-IE I side of the river, but soon after the treaty of 1783 the British government began to build a road on the west side. By 1789 a group of traders had inaugurated a service over the road.

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