Exploring the Northwest Territory: Sir Alexander Mackenzie’s Journal of a Voyage by Bark Canoe from Lake Athabasca to The Pacific Ocean in the Summer of 1789 ed. by T. H. McDonald (review)
- Western American Literature
- The Western Literature Association
- Volume 2, Number 2, Summer 1967
- pp. 163-164
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Reviews 163 known,” men flocked into the future state of Victoria and repeated the scenes so familiar to collectors of Western Americana. Mr. Monaghan retells in brisk narrative the story of the skirmish at the Eureka Stockade, which has been termed “Australia’s Bunker Hill.” He shows that although few Americans were involved in the brief struggle between diggers and redcoats (only one American, a grinning Southern Negro, was tried and at once proceeded to make a burlesque of the court), American slogans were echoed at the time the Southern Cross flag was first raised. The new book also gives a chapter to the escape frotti servitude of the “Irish Patriots of ’48,” made easier when shipping became livelier during the rush from America to Australia. Charles Bateson’s excellent volume Gold Fleets for California (Sydney: Ure Smith, 1963), which Mr. Monaghan uses as one of his dozens of docu mentary sources, is not a substitute for Australians and the Gold Rush, since it covers only a fraction of the broader Monaghan canvas. The new volume contains a score of pictures, complete notes, and several pages of sources, as well as a good index. Mr. Monaghan’s skillful selection and vivid style recreate the days of the gold-finders in a way that makes reading his book an adventure in itself. Australians and the Gold Rush is the result of years of research and mel low writing. I first met the Monaghans early in 1955 among the files of the Mitchell Library in Sydney, that paradise of researchers in Pacific history, and as fellow Fulbright scholars we frequently discussed his projected book. The volume is at last available and is strongly recommended. A. G ro v e D a y , University of Hawaii Exploring the Northwest Territory: Sir Alexander Mackenzie’s Journal of a Voyage by Bark Canoe from Lake Athabasca to The Pacific Ocean in the Summer of 1789. Edited by T. H. McDonald. (Norman: University of Okla homa Press, 1967. Volume 50, The American Exploration And Travel Series, 133 pages, $4.95.) The original edition of Sir Alexander Mackenzie’s journals of his ex plorations in the Canadian Northwest was published in 1801 in London and Edinburgh. Included in this edition was Mackenzie’s journal of his first im- 164 Western American Literature portant but unsuccessful exploration in his attempt to discover a passage to the Pacific Ocean. Making this exploration during the summer of 1789, Mackenzie left Old Fort Chipewyan on Lake Athabasca, proceeded to the river which was later to be given his name, followed it in its northward course, and eventually reached the Arctic Ocean. Exploring the Northwest Territory, edited by T. H. McDonald, is a new edition of Mackenzie’s journal record of this exploring expedition. Among the several editions of Mackenzie’s journals, Exploring the North west Territory is unique because, unlike the others, it is a transcription of the manuscript journal, now in the possession of the British Museum, as it was prepared and left by Mackenzie. It is generally believed that the 1801 edition was prepared for publication not by Mackenzie himself but by William Combe, a man of greater professional experience in the field of writing than Mackenzie. Combe in preparing the journal for publication made many changes, pre sumably in the interest of style and general appeal. Mr. McDonald in the present edition makes available the journal as it was written by Mackenzie. The discrepancies in the 1801 text and the manuscript journal, says Mr. Mc Donald, “make it important that at long last the general public should have access to Mackenzie’s own version.” The textual variations are pointed out in footnotes so that the reader may readily see their nature. Discrepancies in mileage travelled, distances between landmarks and points, directions, names of trees and wildlife are among those most frequently encountered. During the summer of 1965, Mr. McDonald, accompanied by his wife and son, traversed the route of Mackenzie on this exploring expedition, using the journal as a guide. Thus he was able to experience what Mackenzie experienced, to note the directions and distances as recorded, and to test the accuracy of Mackenzie’s observations. He concluded...