Columbia District

Columbia
Fur trading district
Map of the Oregon Country "jointly occupied" by the US and Great Britain; the Columbia Department at its greatest extent included areas far to the north and south.
Map of the Oregon Country "jointly occupied" by the US and Great Britain; the Columbia Department at its greatest extent included areas far to the north and south.
CountryBritish North America
In 1811 David Thompson was the first European to journey the entire length of the Columbia. Map of Columbia River and its tributaries showing modern political boundaries

The Columbia District was a fur trading district in the Pacific Northwest region of British North America in the 19th century. Much of its territory overlapped with the disputed Oregon Country. It was explored by the North West Company between 1793 and 1811, and established as an operating fur district around 1810. The North West Company was absorbed into the Hudson's Bay Company in 1821, under which the Columbia District became known as the Columbia Department. The Oregon Treaty of 1846 marked the effective end of the Hudson's Bay Company's Columbia Department.

Early years

Beginning in 1807, David Thompson, working for the North West Company, explored much of what would become the Columbia District. In 1811 he located Athabasca Pass, which became the key overland connection to the emerging fur district.[1]

The American Pacific Fur Company (PFC) founded Fort Astoria near the entrance of the Columbia River and began to counter the interior NWC trade posts. Funded largely by German-American merchant John Jacob Astor, the company men had previously sailed around Cape Horn on board the Tonquin. During the War of 1812, the Pacific Northwest was a distant region of the conflict. Prior to the war, both companies operated in the region peaceably with each other. News of a coming British warship put the American company into a difficult position. In October 1813, management met at Fort Astoria and agreed to liquidate its assets to the NWC. The HMS Racoon arrived the following month and in honor of George III of the United Kingdom, Fort Astoria was renamed to Fort George.[2]