376 pages, 13 maps
Peter Pond, a fur trader, explorer, and amateur mapmaker, spent his life ranging much farther afield than Milford, Connecticut, where he was born and died (1740-1807). He traded around the Great Lakes, on the Mississippi and the Minnesota Rivers, and in the Canadian Northwest and is also well known as a partner in Montreal's North West Company and as mentor to Alexander Mackenzie, who journeyed down the Mackenzie River to the Arctic Sea.
Knowing eighteenth-century North America on a scale that few others did, Pond drew some of the earliest maps of western Canada. In this meticulous biography, David Chapin presents Pond's life as part of a generation of traders who came of age between the Seven Years' War and the American Revolution. Pond's encounters with a plethora of distinct Native cultures over the course of his career shaped his life and defined his career. Whereas previous studies have caricatured Pond as quarrelsome and explosive, Chapin presents him as an intellectually curious, proud, talented, and ambitious man, living in a world that could often be quite violent. Chapin draws together a wide range of sources and information in presenting a deeper, more multidimensional portrait and understanding of Pond than hitherto has been available.
"Pond was a significant figure in early mapping and the northern fur trade, and bridged a very important period in its history while contributing to his contemporaries' understandings of northwestern North America. Freshwater Passages draws together a wide range of sources and information to present a fresh, multidimensional portrait of Pond that greatly enhances our understanding of this complex and rather mysterious personality."
– Jennifer S. H. Brown, professor of history emeritus at the University of Winnipeg and co-editor of A. Irving Hallowell's, Contributions to Ojibwe Studies: Essays, 1934–1972
"As an American engaged in the Canadian fur trade, Peter Pond contributed to the development and expansion of fur trade commerce among the native people of the Great Lakes region and the Canadian Northwest. There is nothing of its depth and breadth available and especially brings to life the earliest days of the North West Company."
– Theresa Schenck, associate professor of life sciences communications and American Indian studies and folklore at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and editor of The Ojibwe Journals of Edmund F. Ely, 1833–1849
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David Chapin is the author of Exploring Other Worlds: Margaret Fox, Elisha Kent Kane, and the Antebellum Culture of Curiosity.