Introducing ‘Lives Lived West of the Divide’

Vancouver, BC based historian, Bruce McIntyre Watson, and the Centre for Social, Spatial, and Economic Justice, an academic research centre located on the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus, are pleased to introduce the new 3-volume set, Lives Lived West of the Divide: A Biographical Dictionary of Fur Traders Working West of the Rockies, 1793-1858.

The work is a result of 20 years of research into the many individuals involved in the fur trade west of the Rocky Mountains and spans the international border from Northern British Columbia to southern Oregon.  Avoiding the traditional fur trade historiography often written from the point of view of the decision makers, this more inclusive comprehensive biographical dictionary details the lives of over 3,500 individuals who were involved in the fur trade during the period 1793-1858. The main biographical section (which spans all three volumes) is introduced by chapters on the various groups of people and companies which employed them, as well as a detailed breakdown of the fur trade posts in terms of physical structure and the necessities that the men manufactured within the posts. This is followed by a lengthy narrative on the complex daily realities that the ordinary fur traders experienced, family lives, special events, daily routines, celebrations and holidays, conflicts and resolutions and adjustment to the realities of the inevitable non-fur trade pioneer settlement. Following the extensive biographical entry section is a comprehensive set of appendices detailing all of the fur trade forts and posts and their personnel, the ships servicing the land based fur trade, medical instruments and medicines found at the posts, a sampling of items that individuals ordered in, and a listing of books found in company and private post libraries. Last, showing how the fur traders moved on with their lives, is the post-fur trade settlement patterns on both sides of the international border.

Interested in getting a copy of Lives Lived?

All three volumes of Lives Lived West of the Divide can be ordered at  It is strongly advised that all three volumes be ordered together, as a set, since each volume contains information that will be critical to understanding the others.

Volume 1 contains the introduction to the work, including chapters discussing the people and companies involved with the fur trade, and an overview of the dynamics of fur traders’ lives.

This volume also begins the biographical dictionary, with biographies provided for fur traders with last names beginning with A-G.

Volume 1 can be purchased at:

Volume 2 continues the biographical dictionary, with biographies provided for fur traders with last names beginning with G-S.

Volume 2 can be purchased at:

Volume 3 completes the biographical dictionary, with biographies provided for fur traders with last names beginning with S-Z.

This volume also contains appendices discussed forts and posts present during this era, fur trade ships, medical instruments and medicines used, books read by fur traders, and popular settlement locations.  Volume 3 also contains the index and source list for the entire 3-volume set.

Volume 3 can be purchased at:

an academic research centre located at (on?) the University of British Columbia’s

3 Responses to Introducing ‘Lives Lived West of the Divide’

  1. Steven Black

    This 3 vol. set was received as a gift at The Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley. Many thanks to whomever thought to send us this impressive work gratis – it will be added to our collection! Best, Steven Black, Head Acquisitions, The Bancroft Library

  2. Roger Loubert

    And as Jean Barman would say and so many others that take the bother to look into the Lives of the earliest of the VOYAGEURS that eventually became the first White and Metis Settlers of the LAND we now call CANADA…; brings into the Question of when will we see the follow up to this exciting 3 Volume Backgrounder to EXPLAINING AWAY how LE CANADIEN** , actually transformed the very notion of many hundreds of First Nations LANDS… into what we now call CANADA…

    if no one steps up to the plate , I will one day attempt in a 5 TOME VOLUME…,, do that very thing….

    if interested : contact me at: \

    and I will gladly provide more information of a Works in Progress that I’ve been researching for the past 40 years…

    Roger Loubert

  3. Paul Howser

    Hi Roger
    During your research for your Works in Progress have you come across any reference to the name HOWSER in BC before the year 1877. I am not interested in HOWSE or HAUSER.
    Many thanks

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