Select Images from Barry Gough’s The Elusive Mr. Pond

Barry-Gough-Sept17On September 17th the Laurier Military History Speaker Series featured award-winning author and historian Dr. Barry Gough, who spoke about the release of his new book, The Elusive Mr. Pond: The Soldier, Fur Trader and Explorer who Opened the Northwest (Douglas & McIntyre, $34.95). Below is a selection of images taken from the book which we hope will generate continued interested in Gough’s work.

In The Elusive Mr. Pond, Dr. Barry Gough sheds light on one of recent history’s most influential and shadowy figures whose legend has been forgotten in favour of those who came after him. While most North Americans won’t recognize his name, Pond mentored the more well-known Sir Alexander Mackenzie and mapped much of northwestern Canada before him. Peter Pond was extraordinarily ambitious, and became a notable figure in the founding of the empire of the St. Lawrence. And he was both an entrepreneur and pioneer–venturing into the wild and unexplored expanse of the far distant Arctic watershed. His exploits in the fur trade were legendary and elevated him to become a founding partner in the North West Company. These experiences, combined with his reputed violent temper and implication in two murders, make him a compelling historical figure.

Please click each image to expand.





“This exceedingly important map appeared in the March 1970 issue of Gentleman’s Magazine, a London publication of learned information. It is the only map detailing Pond’s knowledge of this part of North America to be published in engraved form. Lines of latitude and longitude give it scientific ballast, though who supplied them is anyone’s guess.” – Pg. 144






“Likely the best map from the North West Company’s early partners, this representation of the Nor’Westers’ forts and trading realms in the pays de’en huat was created in 1785 and presented to the Honourable Henry Hamilton in Quebec. Peter Pond’s signature is on the accompanying memorandum, indicative of his prominence among the ambitious traders seeking government protection and support against rivals real and imagined.” – Pg. 128-129



Prior to The Elusive Mr. Pond, much of Pond’s life has been shrouded in mystery. Renowned researcher and historian Barry Gough has created the definitive portrait of this captivating character. Gough’s research re-examines Pond’s surviving memoirs, explorers’ journals, letters written by acquaintances of Pond, publications in London magazines and many other sources to create the most complete portrait of this eccentric, industrious, sturdy, aggressive and secretive fellow ever published.






“North West Company trading tokens such as these manufactured in the United Kingdom in 1820 are not exceedingly rare. One side shows the prince regent (George IV) and the other, the venerable Canadian symbol, the beaver.” – Pg. 90




Dr. Barry Gough is one of Canada’s foremost historians, well recognized for the authenticity of his research and for his engaging narratives. He is the author of many critically acclaimed books, including Fortune’s a River: The Collision of Empires in Northwest America (Harbour, 2007), which won the John Lyman Book Award for best Canadian naval and maritime history and was shortlisted for the Nereus Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize. Over four decades, his contributions to Imperial, Commonwealth and Canadian studies have earned him many honours at home and abroad. He lives in Victoria, British Columbia.







“Sir William Johnson, the Irish-born superintendent of Indian affairs, built up an empire that grew wealthy in land and trade. He helped cement the Iroquois nations as British allies in the Seven Years’ War. Pond was with him at the taking of Fort Niagara.” – Pg. 27






“In the mid-eighteenth century, the interior of North America was largely unknown expect by occasional traders and travelers. This was the general state of geographical knowledge at the time that Peter Pond, Alexander Henry, Jonathan Carver, and others parented the wilderness to reach the interior. They were the leading edge of fact-finding based on commercial enterprise. Fur traders were the first geographers, though the First Nations already knew the land’s secrets.” – pg. 15


Please click here for more information on the Laurier Military History Speaker Series.

Posted by:


1 Comment

  1. David Harrison -  July 27, 2015 - 10:58 am 28474

    Dear Dr. Gough: I read with interest your recent book on Peter Pond and the maps included as I am am gathering information regarding the historical geography of the Hay River area between the Peace River and Great Slave Lake.

    I found found the historical map atlases of Derek Hayes very useful.
    Of note in these collections is a map possibly these first of Alexander Mackenzie that builds most likely on the 1787June Map of Peter Pond.

    The map is PRO: CO 700 North and South America #54 Chart called Mackenzies Map , illustrative of his tract from Athabasca Lake down Mackenzie River to the North Sea, Anon (Alexander Mackenzie) c 1789. This is found as map 199 p.143 in Derek Hayes recent book of Maps of Canada.

    This map shows many of the details of the area between the Peace River and Great Slave Lake that are not shown on the 1801 Mackenzie Map attached to his published journal.

    This information that is tentatively shown of Ponds Map of june 1787 was most likely gathered from traders and Indian contacts at Boyer Fort near present day Fort Vermilion and passed on to Pond and then Mackenzie and used in the winter of 1789-1790 to construct his map of his journey to the Arctic Ocean and his desire to journey westward up the Peace River

    The 1801 map of Mackenzie shows fewer details of the Hay River area. Many of the maps even as late as the early 1900s show little information of the same area.

    Yours sinceerely

    David arrison


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked (required):

Contact Information

Matt Baker, Senior Research Associate and Centre Coordinator
[email protected]
(519) 884-0710 ext. 2080

Business Hours
Monday to Friday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Saturday to Sunday: Closed

Mailing Address
Wilfrid Laurier University
75 University Avenue West
Waterloo, ON, Canada
N2L 3C5

Physical Address
232 King St. N. Waterloo, ON

Back to Top