Monday, February 29, 2016

The death of Robert Thompson: Research in the internet era

Ian, not previously known to me, sends me an email:
Please excuse me if I am barking up the wrong tree.

I see a site on David Thompson’s 1814 map of Canada (W) marked “Here Mr. Rob’t. Thompson was killed” near Ooskootim Lake. Can you direct me to any information about what happened here?

The lake is now known as Wuskwatim Lake and it is located 43.5 km WSW of Thompson, Manitoba.

I am just a curious map reader..........not important.
Part of me thinks: what did happen here?  Part of me thinks: why should I do this guy's research for him? Part of me thinks: have blog, get mail, take responsibility. Part of me thinks: I will look in the Champlain Society's online publications of David Thompson's works, and send him the book title and page number of the explanation, no more.

Before I do anything, Ian emails again to say he has found the answer.  This time, I have the question:
Faster than me! What is the answer?
And Ian replies right away:
I found these two snippets in the David Thompson Narratives . I like that these early “independent” traders were called Canadians......

“Here he left Ross to build a trading post, and himself continued down Crooked and
File rivers to Burntwood lake, noting on the way two places which had been occupied respectively by the traders from Churchill and by Robert Thompson during the previous winter. Thence he followed his route of the previous spring down the Burntwood and Nelson rivers to York Factory.”
“That Colen believed that he had shelved the Athabaska question for a time is shown by the fact that he sent Ross, Thompson, Cook, Tate, and Sinclair back into the Muskrat country to oppose two Canadian traders named Robert Thompson and McKay who had been cutting into the York Factory trade for some years past. That winter Robert Thompson, who had been for many years on the Churchill and Nelson rivers, was killed in a quarrel with some Indians.”

So now Ian and I know, and so you know.  Still puzzling about the significance.  

Follow @CmedMoore