Uncharted Territory: David Thompson on the Columbia Plateau

Explorer, fur trader and mapmaker David Thompson was a pivotal figure in the early exploration of Canada and the Northwestern United States and is considered by many as “the greatest North American land geographer of his time.” Thompson and his party were the first Europeans to travel the full length of the Columbia River from its source in the Canadian Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. His detailed surveys were developed into the first maps of the area.

Thompson mapped nearly 4 million square kilometers (1.5 million sq. mi.) of North America during his 27 years in the West, fixing the positions of dozens of fur trading posts and many trade routes. Meticulous in detail, Thompson's maps were a critical resource of the Lewis and Clark expedition and others, and were still in use in some regions until the 20th century.

This documentary explores Thompson’s relationships with Native peoples of Canada and North America and shed light on his dynamic accomplishments as explorer, astronomer, surveyor and mapmaker. The documentary focuses on the years 1800-1812 — the time period that he explored the Kootenai area of Alberta, south through the Inland Northwest and down the Columbia River to the Pacific.


Uncharted Territory was made possible in part by the following Corporate Partners:

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