Diaries of a Map Maker

A Collection of David Thompson Paintings

In September, 2006, I decided to “paint something completely different”, and I began “The David Thompson Project”, a nine painting collection depicting some significant events in the life of David Thompson, Canada’s famous fur trader, explorer, and map maker. I narrowed my focus to events which occurred in the prairie region and around Lake of the Woods, acknowledging that his fame is generally centred on events in the Rocky Mountains and the West Coast.

I used Thompson’s diaries as my principal reference, but I soon discovered that I needed additional help from experts in Canadian history to reproduce accurate images of the clothing and footwear of the period, (1797-1812). Research has taken incredible amounts of time. Several trips to Montana, the Dakotas, Northern Saskatchewan, and Lake of the Woods were required to reproduce accurately the landscapes where the events took place.

I have also completed two paintings depicting a dramatic event described in their journals by Alexander Henry, (the Younger), and by Charles MacKenzie, two other early fur traders working out of Manitoba in 1806. In May, 2008, the collection will be exhibited at a David Thompson Symposium and Bicentennial Celebration in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta.

I am grateful to Anne Lindsay and Jennifer Brown, of The Centre for Rupert's Land Studies, to The Champlain Society, to David Malaher, and especially, to Barry and Judy McPherson of The Living History Society, for all the assistance so generously offered, as I struggled to complete the project, and to “get the details right”.

addendum: The David Thompson Collection has now been sold

Don McMaster


David Thompson in the News

- Winnipeg Free Press, April 14, 2008 -
- Winnipeg Free Press, May 11, 2008 -