Item 18 - Letter from Roderick Mackenzie to Simon McTavish, 11 May 1800

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Letter from Roderick Mackenzie to Simon McTavish, 11 May 1800

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CA RBD MSG 431-18

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  • 11 May 1800 (Creation)
    Mackenzie, Roderick, approximately 1761-1844
    Montréal (Québec)

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Physical description

1 folded sheet ; 23.2 cm x 19.8 cm

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(approximately 1761-1844)

Biographical history

Roderick Mackenzie (c. 1761-1844) who had been a partner in the North-West Company, conceived the idea of writing a survey and history of the Canadian North West. In 1806 he had printed a circular letter that he sent out requesting information for his survey. He was interested in geography, longitude and latitude, mountains, rivers, the weather, the soil; flora and fauna and methods of hunting; the First Nations and their history, culture, morals and government; and the history of the fur trade. And his letter included a long list of vocabulary as well. All these were to serve as hints to his informants. Mackenzie had as his model The Statistical Account of Scotland published in the 1790s in twenty-one volumes by Sir John Sinclair. One example of the responses to Mackenzie's circular letter is the series of letters George Keith in the Mackenzie River Department sent him from 1807-1817 in which he described the country, the climate and the inhabitants. He also included a vocabulary list and First Nation stories including a creation myth.

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Manuscript letter to McTavish signed Rod. Mackenzie, dated Montreal 11th May 1800.

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Red wax seal intact, with remnants of another wax seal.

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