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Fortune’s a River launches in Victoria

Posted: Tuesday November 20, 2007

Barry Gough launches his new book, Fortune’s a River, at the Maritime Museum of British Columbia on Wednesday December 5 at 7:30pm.

Have you ever wondered just how British Columbia became British and how Oregon, Washington and Alaska became American? With Fortune’s a River, Barry Gough takes an in-depth look into the imperial struggle between Britain and the US for possession of the future British Columbia.

In this major historical work, noted historian Barry Gough re-examines the struggle for possession of British Columbia at the end of the 18th Century. Gough studies the players in this territorial drama, bringing them to life and vividly recounting their hardships and struggles. This is a wild west adventure of men who were driven by profit to shape the history of the West Coast.

By the end of the 18th century, the stage was set for a major international confrontation over the Northwest Coast. Imperial Russia was firmly established in Alaska, Spain was extending its trade routes north from Mexico, Captain James Cook had claimed Northwest America for England and Captain Robert Grey had claimed the Columbian river region for the United States.

In the end, it turned out that the great powers were reluctant to spend the time conquering the West Coast and so the task was left up to visionary individuals who carried out the battle by private enterprise. This exciting cast of characters ranges from Alexander Mackenzie and his partners Simon Fraser and David Thomson to their American adversaries Thomas Jefferson, Lewis and Clark and the entrepreneur John Jacob Astor.

This tale is one of internal dynamics and international rivalries played out on the magnificent backdrop of the Pacific Northwest.