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Lost in the BackwoodsScots and the North American Wilderness$
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Jenni Calder

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748647392

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748647392.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 24 July 2021

Desperate Undertakings

Desperate Undertakings

(p.56) 3 Desperate Undertakings
Lost in the Backwoods

Jenni Calder

Edinburgh University Press

Some of the best-known figures in the history of North American exploration were Scots. This chapter assesses the achievements and failures of Alexander Mackenzie, Simon Fraser, Robert Stuart, John Richardson, John Rae, Robert Campbell and others, trailblazers and pioneers who vastly increased knowledge of the wilderness although not always with the desired results. The chapter examines narratives of exploration, the hazards encountered, and the qualities and skills involved in overcoming them - courage, resourcefulness, tenacity, religious faith, a gift for solitude, and, crucially, recognition and application of native survival techniques. The part indigenous peoples played in Scottish achievement is discussed, and remains an underlying theme throughout the book The chapter shows how the achievements of the pioneer explorers stemmed from an acceptance of extreme conditions as well as a spirit of endurance. The best were driven by an imperative to experience, observe and describe as well as to reach a specific goal.

Keywords:   exploration, wilderness hazards, Alexander Mackenzie, Simon Fraser, Robert Stuart, John Richardson, John Rae, Robert Campbell

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