Athabasca Pass

Feature type: Pass (2)
Province: British Columbia
Location: Alta-BC boundary, headwaters of Pacific Creek
Latitude: 52°23’35”
Longitude: 118°11’00”
NTS map: 83D/8
Official name listed at BC Geographical Names
In Cree, “Athabasca” means “place where there are reeds,” a reference to the delta where the Athabasca River enters Lake Athabasca in northern Alberta.

The first white man to cross Athabasca Pass was David Thompson of the North West Company in 1811. The pass became the main fur trade route from the east to the Columbia River until 1824, when the Hudson’s Bay Company closed its operations in Oregon and moved its Pacific coast headquarters to Fort Victoria on Vancouver Island.

Gabriel Franchère traveled through the pass with a fur brigade in the spring of 1814. “We were obliged to stop every moment, to take breath, so stiff was the ascend,” he wrote. “After two or three hours of incredible exertions and fatigues, we arrived at the plateau or summit. On either side were immense glaciers or icebound rocks.”


  • Akrigg, George Philip Vernon, 1913-, and Helen B. Akrigg. British Columbia place names. Vancouver: UBC Press, 1997
  • Franchère, Gabriel 1786-1863. Narrative of a voyage to the Northwest Coast of America. New York: Redfield, 1854
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