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David Thompson, 1770-1857 Mapmaker - Biography
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Detail from David Thompson taking an observation

Detail from David Thompson Taking an Observation
Charles William Jefferys
Library and Archives Canada

Signature of David Thompson
Library and Archives Canada

Charting the wilderness

David Thompson filled in the empty map of the Canadian Northwest. At the
age of 14, he came to Canada in service to the Hudson’s Bay Company.
Maps of the day showed only a mysterious blank space in northwestern North
America. Thompson changed that.

Working for the two great fur-trading enterprises of his time, Thompson walked,
rode or canoed through the wilderness for three decades and surveyed millions
of square kilometres. He gathered information from First Peoples, added his own painstaking observations and measurements, and combined the whole into
the first great map of the Northwest. His lively account of life in the wilderness
is a classic of early Canadian literature.

quote At length the Rocky Mountains came in sight like shining white clouds
on the horizon, but we doubted what our guide said; but as we proceeded,
they rose in height, their immense masses of snow appeared above the
clouds, and formed an impassable barrier, even to the Eagle. quote

David Thompson

Signature of David Thompson

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