The Hudson's Bay Brigade Trail, sometimes referred to simply as the Brigade Trail, refers to one of two routes used by Hudson's Bay Company fur traders to transport furs, goods and supplies between coastal and Columbia District headquarters at Fort Vancouver and those in New Caledonia and also in Rupert's Land.
Importantly the route was that used by the annual "Hudson's Bay Express", a shipment of the company books and profits to company headquarters.
The older of the two routes, and the most used, was from Fort Vancouver via the Columbia and Okanagan Rivers to Fort Shuswap (aka Fort Kamloops, today's City of Kamloops, then via the Bonaparte and Cariboo Plateaus to the Fraser River at Fort Alexandria. From there the Express used river travel via the Peace River to the Prairies and Rupert's Land.
Another route used by the Express was direct to Rupert's Land via the Columbia River to Boat Encampment on that river's Big Bend (beneath today's Kinbasket Lake reservoir) and then via Howse Pass .
The route from Fort Kamloops to Fort Alexandria later featured prominently in the migration to the Cariboo goldfields and was known to miners using it as the Brigade Trail. The southern part of the trail, between Forts Vancouver and Kamloops, was at this time known as the Okanagan Trail.
In anticipation of the division of the Columbia District/Oregon Country, the company established a new fort just above the future boundary at Fort Langley on the lower reaches of the Fraser River and the exploration of alternate routes via British territory for the company fur brigades from the seacoast to the Interior was undertaken.
Considered among the new routes were what later became known as the Lakes Route and passes in the southern Canadian Cascades later used by the Dewdney Trail and the Crowsnest Highway, but the most viable route was decided to be a difficult crossing of the Canadian Cascades, over the east wall of the Fraser Canyon just above Spuzzum onto the Thompson Plateau, then to Fort Kamloops.
A great deal of money was spent on the route, which was steep and narrow and carved into the mountainside, rising from Kequaloose, which lies opposite Spuzzum on the east bank of the Fraser near today's Alexandra Bridge, and was only used a few times by fur brigades because of its difficulty for pack animals. Most shipments by this route were disastrous. It had fallen into disuse by the time of the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush
History of Vancouver
For thousands of years, the Vancouver area was home to native people who flourished on the bounty of forest and river.
In May, 1792, American trader/sailor Robert Gray became the first non-native to enter the fabled “Great River of the West,” the Columbia River. Later that year, British Lt. William Broughton, serving under Capt. George Vancouver, explored 100 miles upriver. Along the way, he named a point of land along the shore in honor of his commander.
In 1806, American explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark camped near the Vancouver waterfront on the return leg of their famed western expedition. Lewis characterized the area as “the only desired situation for settlement west of the Rocky Mountains.”
In 1825, Dr. John McLoughlin decided to move the northwest headquarters of the Hudson’s Bay Company from Astoria to a more favorable setting upriver. He named the site after Point Vancouver on Broughton’s original map. Fort Vancouver was thus born.
For many years, Fort Vancouver was the center of all fur trading in the Pacific Northwest. It was also a center of British dominion over the Oregon Territory. In 1846, American control was extended north to the 49th parallel. The northwest became part of the United States.
In 1849, American troops arrived to establish Columbia (later Vancouver) Barracks. It served as military headquarters for much of the Pacific Northwest. The neighboring settlement was named “the City of Columbia.”
Finally, in 1857, the City of Vancouver was incorporated. Through the rest of the century, Vancouver steadily developed. In 1908, the first rail line east through the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge reached Vancouver. In 1910, a railroad bridge was opened south across the Columbia. In 1917, the Interstate Bridge was completed.
During World War I, the site later named Pearson Field was the location of the world's largest spruce cut-up mill. It cut raw timber into the lumber used to build the planes which helped win the war in Europe. During World War II, Vancouver’s Kaiser Shipyard built a variety of craft that contributed greatly to America’s war effort.
Today, Vancouver is a community proud of its past with a keen eye toward a future rich with promise