David Thompson has been described as the “greatest land geographer who ever lived.”
His achievements as an explorer and surveyor have earned him the reputation as one of the best pioneering geographers in Canadian history. During his career, he mapped almost half of North America between the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes all the way to the Pacific coast.
Thompson’s significance as a geographer and mapmaker cannot be underestimated. Not only was he the first to chart vast regions of the continent, but his work was so accurate that it remained the basis of all maps of the west for almost a century. The same meticulous observational skills that made him a superb surveyor also made him an excellent naturalist. His journals are full of acute accounts of the plants, animals and birds he encountered.