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Welcome to the Peter Pond Society

This is the story of Peter Pond (1740-1807), an overlooked Connecticut Yankee who was the precursor to Lewis and Clark. He was born in Milford, CT, became a giant in the Canadian fur trade and returned to Milford to spend his final years. The location of his grave is unknown. Pond inspired Alexander Mackenzie to become the first white man to reach the Pacific Ocean overland across North America in 1793. This was 12 years before Lewis and Clark.

Here is a portrait of Sir Alexander Mackenzie (1764-1820) by Sir Thomas Lawrence that hangs in the National Gallery of Canada. Pond never had his portrait painted. The Mackenzie portrait is on the cover of a book about this famous explorer by Dr. Barry Gough, former history professor (currently retired) at Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario, Canada. Gough, probably Canada's best authority on Pond, is also a charter member of the Peter Pond Society. The book cover graces this web page with his kind permission. The book is about Mackenzie, but shows he owes Pond a great debt in his rise to immortality. It was Mackenzie's book on his overland voyage to the Pacific Ocean that caused President Thomas Jefferson to launch the more famous Lewis and Clark Expedition, which reached its objective in 1805. It can be argued, therefore, that without Pond there probably would have been no Lewis and Clark Expedition. This website includes supporting text and links on why Peter Pond is an overlooked North American hero who deserves more attention than he has received. The United States had its Lewis and Clark Bicentennial 2003-2006. Canada observed the Mackenzie Bicentennial with much fanfare in 1993.

A historical marker honoring Pond was installed at the edge of Milford Cemetery in October 2010. The cemetery is the oldest of its kind in the nation that has been continually operating. One photo shows me next to the marker, the other affords a closeup of the inscription. We thank the Milford Preservation Trust for footing the bill for the marker. We also thank the Milford Cemetery Association for granting permission to install the marker.

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Though Pond never sat for a portrait, Illona Campbell depicted him for my March 1984 article in CANOE Magazine. The scene is from “The Magnificent Adventures of Alexander Mackenzie,” by Philip Vail (Dodd, Mead and Co., New York, 1964) when Mackenzie first meets Pond: “Pond stalked into the hall, a pack of dogs at his heels. The gray-haired giant had not shaved in weeks, his buckskins were stained, and he was badly in need of a bath. But his natural dignity was overwhelming. He ate a large venison steak, a platter of bear-bacon, and a moose liver. He insisted his dogs be given fresh meat, too.”

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Peter Pond was inducted, along with four others, into the Milford Hall of Fame on September 22, 2009. The Hall of Fame plaque, with likeness and inscription as displayed in a corridor of Milford's Parsons Government Center, is below. The symbols shown on either side of Pond are those on the city's municipal flag. Milford artist Dorothy Kozlowski drew the likeness taken from the Campbell work above.

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Peter Pond was a charter member of Montreal's exclusive Beaver Club. Here is the front and back of his Beaver Club medal which served as his name tag. The medal is still in the hands of a family member.
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Ft. McMurray, Alberta, first discovered by Peter Pond:    

My name is Bill McDonald (bmcdon25@optonline.net) and I live in Milford, CT, married with three children and two grandchildren. I am an avid canoeist, amateur historian and retired newspaper reporter. When I learned about Pond being from Milford and how he used the canoe to shape North American history, I sought to learn as much as possible about him. This has included paddling the Clearwater River in Western Canada in 1988. Pond was the first white man to descend the Clearwater in 1778.

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