SIR ALEXANDER MACKENZIE (1763/4-1820)
Voyages from Montreal, on the River St. Laurence, through the Continent of North America, to the Frozen and Pacific Oceans; in the Years 1789 and 1793. With a preliminary account of the .... Fur Trade of that country. London: R. Noble for T. Cadell, Jun. & W. Davies [and others], 1801. 4° (280 x 215mm). 2pp. errata at rear. Engraved portrait frontispiece by P. Condé after Sir Thomas Lawrence, 3 folding maps (one hand-coloured in outline). (Half-title lacking, portrait cut to edge of plate mark and laid down, small tears to folds of maps, portrait offset onto title, maps with offsetting and some browning.) Contemporary mottled calf, covers with triple fillet gilt border, the flat spine divided into six compartments by fillets and roll tools, blue morocco lettering-piece in the second compartment, the others with repeat pattern made up from various small tools, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, marbled edges (extremities bumped, some light damage to surface of the leather.
'FIRST AND FINEST EDITION OF THE EARLIEST EXPEDITION MADE BY A WHITE MAN IN THIS DIRECTION' (Sabin). Mackenzie set out from Fort Chippewayan on 3 June 1789, accompanied by Canadians and Indians in birchbark canoes, to explore the uncharted north-west region with a view to discovering a practicable North-West passage. He descended the eponymous Mackenzie River to the Arctic Sea, demonstrating that, while navigable, it was not a commercially viable passage. This made finding a transcontinental passage even more important for British trade, and in his second and more arduous expedition in 1792-3, Mackenzie set out to reach the Pacific Ocean. He was successful and became the first white man to cross the Rocky (then Chippewayan) Mountains, arriving at the Pacific near Cape Menzies. Mackenzie's discoveries were not only hugely beneficial to British trade in North America, but formed the basis for later Arctic exploration, and the remarkable accuracy of his accounts was noted by Sir John Franklin. Mackenzie's detailed history of the fur trade opens the volume, and it contains a limited dictionary of useful words in Knisteneo and Algonquin and examples of Chippewayan. Howes M-133; Sabin 43414.