Thompson, David
b. 1770-04-30
d. 1857-02-10
David Thompson was a fur trader, explorer, surveyor, justice of the peace, businessman, and author, born in Westminster, England on April 30, 1770. In 1806, Thompson set out to explore, survey, and map the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean. American expeditions to the coast were also being conducted in 1806, including that by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Thompson reached the Pacific on July 15, 1811, failing to arrive at his destination before the American Pacific Fur Company, who had arrived a few weeks earlier.1
After receiving an education at the Grey Coat mathematical school, where he was trained in navigation, Thompson was apprenticed to the Hudson's Bay Company for seven years in 1784.2
After fracturing his right leg in the winter of 1788, Thompson spent the winter of 1789-90 in recovery, studying mathematics, surveying, mapmaking, and astronomy with Philip Turnor, the HBC's official surveyor.3 In 1797, Thompson left the HBC and joined the North West Company where he was assigned to survey along the 49th parallel and locate NWC posts.4
In 1814, Thompson retired from the fur trade and completed a large map of the Northwest for the NWC. In 1815 he moved to Williamstown, Upper Canada with his wife and five children. Thomson died on February 10, 1857 in Longueuil, Lower Canada.5
  • 1. John Nicks, Thompson, David, Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. John S. Nicks, Thompson, David, The Canadian Encyclopedia.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. John Nicks, Thompson, David, Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.
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Columbia River