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Simon Thompson Fraser (1776-1862) was an early explorer of what is now British Columbia and the first man to explore the entirety of the Fraser River, which is named for him. His father, General Simon Fraser (1729-1777), was mortally wounded at the Battle of Bemis Heights during the American Revolutionary War. The younger Fraser was in charge of the North West Company's operations west of the Rocky Mountains in 1805 when he began a quest to further expand Alexander Mackenzie's exploration of the area.
During an earlier exploration in 1803, Fraser ascended the Peace River and founded a trading post at what is now Hudson's Hope. Fraser and his men ascended the Parsnip and Pack Rivers, founding a fort at what is now McLeod Lake--the first permanent Canadian settlement west of the Rockies.
Fraser next hoped to explore the length of what he thought was the Columbia River. But delays prevented him from beginning his exploration for two years. Before doing so, he founded a fort at what is now Prince George before beginning his most famous exploration in 1808. Warned by locals that the river that would later be named the Fraser River would be unnavigable, Fraser's party abandoned their canoes near what is now Lillooet, and went on by foot. They were often chased by hostile Indians, including one encounter near what is now Vancouver. Fraser viewed the Strait of Georgia, but could not navigate it. The men continued with difficulty to the site of what is now Hope, where they discovered that the river was not the Columbia. The men then began their return trip, and Fraser had to circumvent a mutiny by his men. They continued upstream from what is now Yale, and arrived back at Fort George in early August. The entire exploration of the Fraser River took the men more than two months. Afterward, he established a settlement at New Caledonia.
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