Henry Fuller Davis

In the late 1860s Henry Davis and others began trading along the upper PEACE RIVER in opposition to the HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY (HBC). In 1886 he based his operation at FORT VERMILION and competed with the HBC until his death.


Davis, Henry Fuller

 Henry Fuller Davis, known as "Twelve Foot Davis," miner, trader and familiar name in Peace River Country folklore (b at Vermont c 1818; d at Buffalo Bay, Alta 13 September 1900). After joining the California gold rush (c 1849), Henry Davis heard about the CARIBOO GOLD RUSH and so headed to BARKERVILLE, BC. Here he found that the shore of Willow Creek (containing much gold) was all taken up by mining claims. Undeterred, he measured each claim, which by law could not exceed 30.5 m (100 feet), and found that 2 of them together totalled 64.6 m (212 feet). After a legal resurvey, Davis put in his own claim for the 3.7 m (12 feet) in the middle. This earned him about $15 000 and his nickname, Twelve Foot Davis.

In the late 1860s Henry Davis and others began trading along the upper PEACE RIVER in opposition to the HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY (HBC). In 1886 he based his operation at FORT VERMILION and competed with the HBC until his death. Later years were not kind as Twelve Foot Davis was blind and so badly crippled by rheumatism that he had to be carried around in a cart. In compliance with a request to James CORNWALL, his body was disinterred from its grave at Buffalo Bay (c 1909) and buried on a hill overlooking the confluence of the Peace and Smoky rivers. The scenic spot, overlooking the town of PEACE RIVER, remains one of the most familiar in northwestern Alberta.


Further Reading

  • David W. Leonard, Delayed Frontier: The Peace River Country to 1909 (1995).