Peter Pond | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Peter Pond

Peter Pond, fur trader (b at Milford, Conn 18 Jan 1739/40; d there 1807).
Fur Trade Map by Peter Pond

 In 1775, with proverbial Yankee shrewdness, Pond moved from the area southwest of the Great Lakes, where he had been trading for most of the previous decade, to focus on what is now the Canadian West, which proved a much richer territory. In 1778 fellow traders chose him to take goods from the lower Saskatchewan River into the Athabasca country, which they had heard of from the Indigenous people. He accomplished the difficult journey, wintering on the Athabasca River and doing an extremely good trade. In 1779 he received one share in the partnership that brought together the trading interests of Benjamin Frobisher and Simon McTavish. He returned to the Athabasca country in 1783-84, and again from 1785 to 1788 as a partner in the NWC.

Alexander Mackenzie was his second-in-command during the winter of 1787-88 and was greatly influenced by Pond's conception of the region's geography. Having been implicated in the murder of 2 competitors, Pond left the fur trade under a cloud. He went back to the US, probably to his birthplace. The map of the North-West that he drew in 1784-85, based on his own exploration and Indigenous reports, is the earliest to depict what is now called the Mackenzie Basin. He subsequently prepared other versions of the map and wrote an account of his early adventures, a work which radiates the energy and enormous confidence that drove him.