Books & Music - History
By Peter Johnson
Before the advent of photography, the topography of the colonial North American landscape was recorded by travelling artists hired to reproduce what they saw with unadulterated realism. One of these artists was British-born Frederick Whymper.
Throughout the 1860s, Whymper sketched his way from California to British Columbia, Yukon, Alaska, and Siberia. He was the first to sketch the Fraser River route from New Westminster to Cariboo gold country. As the official artist on Alfred Waddington’s road through Chilcotin territory, he was the first to report the 1864 Chilcotin War to the press. He travelled with the crews of Western Union Telegraph Company as they laid overland cable from New Westminster to Petropavlovsk. He was the first European artist to paddle over 1,600 kilometres on the Yukon River, recording its vibrant role in the life of its surrounding people.