TODAY IN BABE-STORY: Denise Milani would like to remind you that on this day way back in 1793, a young Scotsman named Alexander Mackenzie - inspired by rumors that the Pacific coast was peopled entirely by crazy-hot, delightfully pneumatic models - arrived at the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately for Alexander, his intel was off by the better part of 300 years, and so instead of Denise Milani, he was greeted with a nip in the air and lovely view of Vancouver Island. Consequently, he had to make up a story about wanting to stake a claim for Great Britain.
On this day in 1793, Mackenzie reached the Pacific Ocean across from what is today called Vancouver Island. Using a paint he concocted from grease and vermilion, he wrote on a rock: “Alexander Mackenzie, from Canada, by land, the twenty-second of July, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three.” With this inscription, Great Britain staked its first tenuous claim on the northwest.
Aside from the Spanish explorers who had previously crossed the comparatively narrow Mexican land mass, Mackenzie was the first Euro-American to cross the North American continent to reach the Pacific Ocean. Yet, he considered his achievement to be “at least in part a failure” because he had failed to find a passable commercial route. Mackenzie later returned to Scotland and never returned to Canada. Twelve years later, the discoveries he made on his “failed” voyage played a key role in President Thomas Jefferson’s decision to send Lewis and Clark on their two-year journey to the Pacific.