Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Night 71° Clear
News >  Pacific NW

Columbia travelers following 1811 voyage by explorer

Canoeists paddle 20-foot canoes near the Tri-Cities last week as part of the bicentennial celebration retracing David Thompson's exploration of the Columbia River.
Canoeists paddle 20-foot canoes near the Tri-Cities last week as part of the bicentennial celebration retracing David Thompson's exploration of the Columbia River.
Tom Vogt The (Vancouver) Columbian

A hundred or so modern-day voyagers will arrive today in Vancouver, Wash., after five weeks on the Columbia River.

Canoes carrying members of the 2011 David Thompson Columbia River Brigade are scheduled to arrive at Marine Park at 4 p.m. as they approach the end of their 1,040-mile adventure.

The brigade expects to reach the Pacific Coast at Astoria, Ore., on Saturday.

“That’s 200 years to the day after David Thompson reached Astoria,” said Ross MacDonald, chairman of the brigade.

The event commemorates the 1811 voyage by the fur trader, explorer and mapmaker who was the first person known to navigate the entire length of the Columbia River.

The brigade includes people who identify with different aspects of Thompson’s journey, including canoeists and history buffs as well as surveyors.

Local surveyors will help out during the brigade’s Vancouver stop as a salute to Thompson.

“He worked as a surveyor and he surveyed part of the boundary between the United States and Canada,” said Howard Richardson, with Olson Engineering of Vancouver.

Richardson is a member of the Lower Columbia Chapter of the Land Surveyors’ Association of Washington.

People who greet the brigade can expect to see eight or nine canoes pulling in, MacDonald said, depending on the wind.

In addition to offering canoe rides Monday, the brigade will have displays representing surveying and fur-trading in 1811.

“All told, there have been more than 200 participants in the brigade,” MacDonald said. “Some do a week at a time, around their holidays. We’ve had aboriginal teams from First Nations and professional canoe racers.”

Since leaving Canal Flats, B.C., on June 3, the brigade has averaged about 30 miles a day.

“The water has been high, so we haven’t seen much in the way of rapids,” MacDonald said. The high water also meant that “some of our landing sites have changed, and we’ve moved some campsites to higher ground.”

The brigade will also be in Vancouver on Tuesday for a day off.

“On Tuesday, people can come in and talk with us,” MacDonald said. “But it’s a laundry day, so there will be no displays and no rides.”

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.