The York Factory Express

Every March between 1826 and 1854, the York Factory Express began its journey from the Hudson’s Bay Company’s headquarters on the Pacific Ocean, where the express-men paddled their boats up the Columbia River to the base of the Rocky Mountains at Boat Encampment, a thousand miles to the east. At Jasper’s House they were 3,000 feet above sea level. Their river route would return them to salt water once more, at York Factory, on the shores of Hudson Bay. It was an amazing climb and an amazing descent, and they would do a similar climb and descent on their journey home to the mouth of the Columbia. The stories of the York Factory Express, and of the Saskatchewan Brigades they joined at Edmonton House, are told in the words of the Scottish traders and clerks who wrote the journals. However, the voyageurs who made the journey possible are the invisible, unnamed Canadiens, Orkney-men, Iroquois, and their Métis children and grand-children, who powered the boats back and forthacross the continent every year. But their history was oral. If the traders had not preserved the stories the voyageurs told them, we would not know this history today – as it is portrayed in The York Factory Express.


Nancy Marguerite Anderson

Nancy Marguerite Anderson fell into the stories of the pre-gold rush history of the territory west of the Rocky Mountains when she researched her great-grandfather’s writings. Her first book, The Pathfinder, told the story of Alexander Caulfield Anderson’s life in the Hudson’s Bay Company and of his experiences in the early colonial history of British Columbia. Many of these stories are told on Nancy’s blog. She makes her home in Victoria. Visit her at


“Therein lies both the charm and the value of this book, sympathetic story-telling grounded in primary documents, liberally quoted to keep the reader as close as possible to the words and experiences of those who worked and travelled the York Factory Express.” – BC Studies
“The York Factory Express&nbspprovides a fascinating window into the lives of a distinct group of men. Anderson peppers her story with thoughtful commentary that places the men’s experiences in the context of the times and invites thinking about the past in general.” – Canada’s History
“The fascinating narrative is supported by excerpts from journals of six express leaders. I love reading these accounts of earlier travellers on the historic river.” – BC Review


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260 Pages
8.93in * 6.11in * .74in


July 14, 2021


Ronsdale Press



Book Subjects:

HISTORY / Canada / Pre-Confederation (to 1867)

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