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National Historic Sites in the Mountain National Parks

Alexander Henry (The Younger), Person of National Historic Significance

Alexander Henry (The Younger) was commemorated as a National Historic Person in 1973 for his contributions as a Canadian fur trader in the North West Company.

Fur Trader

Henry began his career as a North West Company (NWC) fur trader and explorer in southern Manitoba in 1791. He spent the winter of 1799–1800 at a post near Fort Dauphin Mountain afterwhich, he returned to the interior, moving south from Lake Winnipeg up the Red River. On June 30, 1801, only ten years after joining the NWC, he would become a partner.

Moving west from post to post along the Alberta portion of the North Saskatchewan River, Henry along with Alexander Stewart established NWC trade at the mouth of the Columbia River in 1813, where John Jacob Astor had set up a depot. On May 22, 1814, Henry, along with Donald McTavish and five sailors, was travelling in an open boat from Fort George on the Columbia River, when the boat capsized. Henry and McTavish both drowned.

Journals

While his date and place of birth are unknown, Henry documented his fur trade travels extensively and is well known today for his detailed journals. One of the few fur traders to keep records of his life and the life of others in his contact, his journals are dated from 1799 onward, and are an excellent record from the early 19th century of the fur trade.

Although the original journal is lost, the existing copy is 1,642 pages long and has been published twice. The journal includes natural and cultural observations, meteorological tables, lists of employees, native vocabularies and detailed descriptions of the major plains tribes, especially the Cree. His accounts also include the names of the various Nakoda bands across the northern plains.

Blaeberry River

In 1811, Henry the Younger came across a river known to David Thompson as Portage Creek and named it the "Blaeberry Torrent" due to the abundant berry bushes lining its bank. "Blae," a Scots English word for "blue" has led to the river being incorrectly labelled the Blueberry River on many occasions.

The Blaeberry River is a tributary of the Columbia River in British Columbia. It rises on the south side of Howse Pass and joins the Columbia midway between the town of Golden, at the confluence of the Kicking Horse River, and the east foot of the Rogers Pass, at the head of Kinbasket Lake and the mouth of the Beaver River. It’s approximately 60 kilometres long.

Fast Fact:

Alexander Henry (the younger) carried on the name of his uncle who was also a fur trader and entrepreneur. Alexander Henry (the elder) also kept detailed journals documenting his fur trade travels.

Fast Fact:

According to the will of Alexander Henry (the younger), he left 6 children behind when he parished: three “reputable sons” born in the 1790’s and two daughters and a son, who were children of a native woman “who has been in the habit of living with me since the year 1802.”

Plaque Text:

Fur trader, explorer and diarist, Alexander Henry the younger began his career with the NorthWest Company in 1791. Ten years later he was made a partner in that firm. Trade and exploration took him from Lake Superior to the Pacific, from the Athabasca to the Missouri rivers. In 1813, the North West Company sent overland and maritime parties to establish trade at the mouth of the Columbia River and to oust its American rivals. Henry, co-leader of the overland group, drowned there the following year. His journals are an important source of information on the fur trade and Native life in the West.

Sources:

The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan, Alexander Henry, The Younger