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    Re: Thompson mapping Canada
    From: Geoffrey Kolbe
    Date: 2009 Nov 29, 06:57 +0000

    Frank wrote [NavList 10840]:
    
    >Here's a brief, interesting account of the life of David Thompson
    >who did a lot of mapping work in Canada starting around 1790
    >frequently using lunars to determine longitudes:
    >http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/8354658.stm
    >
    >According to the article, there was a program on BBC television on
    >this last week. Anyone see it?
    >
    >-FER
    
    I watched it last night. (I uploaded it during the week using the BBC
    iplayer program). The programme was one of a series by Ray Mears, (a
    survival specialist who makes programmes about how to light fires in
    the wood and catch rabbits using home-made snares and so forth), who
    is 'doing' Canada from the backwoodsman outdoor-skills point of view.
    
    The photography is magnificent and worth watching for that alone.
    However, David Thompson is something of a hero to Ray Mears, so we
    get quite a bit about his history - how he was born in Wales (hence
    the Welsh connection in the link you found), but moved to London at
    an early age. He was a bright lad though and on leaving school at 14,
    was indentured to the Hudson Bay Company and left for Canada, where
    he went on to learn surveying skills and map a vast chunk of the
    Canadian hinterland. His greatest achievement was to find and map a
    route through the Rockies, so uniting West and East Canada. He never
    returned to England or Wales.
    
    As you might suspect though, there is not much on his surveying and
    navigation methods. We are introduced to the sextant, with close-ups
    of something that belongs to the end of the 20th century rather than
    the 18th. The covered pan of water as the artificial horizon is
    shown, and there are a few agonizing minutes where Mears attempts to
    find the altitude of the sun, searching for the direct image of the
    sun via the index mirror while looking at the reflected image of the
    pan of water. Then he hands the sextant to the 'expert' who is with
    him to demonstrate how it is done - and he cannot do it either! Mears
    announced solemnly that it is not easy and his respect for Thompson
    is greatly enhanced. And that is about it. No mention of Lunars, or
    time, or anything else.
    
    Geoffrey
    
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