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'Narrative on the sources of the Columbia'

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/RCMS 249

Scope and Contents

'Narrative of the establishment on the sources of the Columbia, addressed to Mr Duncan McGillivray, Director of the N.W. Coy & the gentlemen of Upper Fort des Prairies 1807', 32 pages: (p. 1) title; (p. 2) blank; (pp. 3-29) narrative; (pp. 30-32) blank. The work is headed on p. 3, 'Narrative of the expedition to the Kootanai & Flat Bow Indian Countries, on the sources of the Columbia River, Pacific Ocean by D. Thompson on behalf of the N.W. Company 1807', signed D. Thompson.


  • Creation: 1807


Conditions Governing Access

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Biographical / Historical

David Thompson (1770-1857) was born at Westminster, London, on 30 April 1770, and educated at Grey Coat School, Westminster. He was apprenticed to the Hudson's Bay Company in 1784, and was employed as a clerk at Hudson Bay and in the interior. He joined the North West Company in 1797, becoming a partner, and worked in the fur trade until 1812. During this period, Thompson undertook exploratory expeditions, during which he mapped the terrain and became the first white man to descend the Columbia River from its source to its mouth. He was engaged on surveying the boundary between Canada and the United States from 1816 to 1826, and subsequently worked on other surveys. He died at Longueuil, near Montreal, on 10 February 1857.


1 volume(s) (1 volume) : paper

Language of Materials


Former / Other Reference

MSS 62

Other Finding Aids

Donald H. Simpson, ed., 'The manuscript catalogue of the library of the Royal Commonwealth Society' (London, 1975), p. 135.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The provenance of the collection is not known.

Related Materials

The R.C.S. Manuscripts Collection includes Thompson's 'Remarks on the countries westward of the Rocky Mountains', RCMS 250.


The narrative was published as 'The discovery of the source of the Columbia River' in 'The Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society', vol. 26 (1925), pp. 28-49, with an introduction by T.C. Elliott, pp. 23-28.


This collection level description was created by RAS. The biographical history was compiled with reference to the entry on David Thompson in W. Stewart Wallace, ed., 'The Macmillan dictionary of Canadian biography', 4th edition (Toronto, 1978), pp. 827-828.


Thompson, David, 1770-1857, explorer and geographer

Includes index.
2005-09-26 09:17:12+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

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