Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.
January 18, 1739 – 1807
Peter Pond by Illona Campbell
Pond began his fur trading career with his father out of Detroit Michigan. He traded throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. Through his business he became acquainted with Alexander Henry the younger, Simon McTavish and the brothers Thomas, Benjamin and Joseph Frobisher. They formed the North West Company which developed a fierce rivalry with the Hudson’s Bay Company.
In search of new fur resources Pond explored west of the Great Lakes. In 1776–1778 he wintered at the junction of the Sturgeon River and North Saskatchewan River near present day Prince Albert.
In 1783, Pond’s explorations led him to the Athabasca, a region stretching from Lac Île-à-la-Crosse to the Peace River. He explored waterways around Lake Athabasca and determined the approximate locations of Great Slave Lake and Great Bear Lake from First Nations peoples of the area.
Peter Pond drew a map showing rivers and lakes of the Athabasca region, including what was known of the whole area from Hudson Bay to the Rocky Mountains and interpolating his information to the Arctic Ocean or Northwest Passage.
In 1785, one copy of Pond’s map, was submitted to the United States Congress and a second to the Lieutenant-Governor of Quebec, Henry Hamilton. Pond needed financial support to carry his explorations to the limits of North America’s northwest. The British government was not forthcoming.
As a partner in the North West Company, he was in charge of the company business in the Athabasca and Peace River areas. An ambitious man with a reputation for a violent temper, he was implicated in two murders: Although acquitted on the murder charges, the company replaced him with Alexander Mackenzie.
Peter Pond had contributed to the mapping of Canada by drawing the general outline of the river basin that Mackenzie recorded in 1789. The maps that Peter Pond subsequently drew, based on his explorations and on the information provided to him by First Nations peoples, ultimately gained international recognition for Pond at the end of the 18th century.
In 1790, Pond sold his shares in the North West Company to William McGillivray. He returned to Milford, Connecticut, where he died in 1807.
Pond left for Canada after wounding a man in a duel. He led the first Europeans who entered the Athabaska country, used the Methye Portage and saw the Athabasca oil sands. He founded Fort Chipewyan, Alberta.