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Sir Alexander MackenzieEnlarge image

Sir Alexander Mackenzie, c. 1800

Thomas Lawrence
British, 1769 - 1830
oil on canvas
76.3 x 64 cm
Transfer from the Canadian War Memorials, 1921
National Gallery of Canada (no. 8000)

Alexander Mackenzie (1764-1820) is among the most important explorers of this continent. Born in Stornoway, Scotland, he first settled with his family in New York, later emigrating to Canada during the American Revolution. He became involved in the fur trade and joined the North West Company in 1788. The following year he discovered the large river that connects the Great Slave Lake and the Arctic Sea, which now bears his name. In 1793 he became the first European to cross the Rocky Mountains and reach the Pacific coast. An account of his travels was published in 1801, and he was knighted in 1802.

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