An unacknowledged explorer hero or a surveyor who was known to exaggerate the truth? On his death, one newspaper pronounced Walter Moberly second only to Captain Vancouver in the record of western Canadian exploration. Moberly would certainly have agreed with this eulogy, for he saw himself as the true discoverer of the Northwest Passage by land -- the all-Canadian route for the transcontinental railway. From childhood, stories of this passage had filled his imagination, and when he journeyed from Ontario to British Columbia in 1858, it was with the express purpose of exploring for this route -- but by land, not sea. And Moberly succeeded. He discovered a route through the Monashee Mountains via Eagle Pass (his best-known achievement); he fought his way through the supposedly impregnable Selkirks in the dead of winter; he explored and surveyed one of the major passes in the Rockies. These discoveries vanquished the last obstacles that stood between the Pacific Coast and the Prairies and opened the way for the future railway. Moberly's story is told from a personal and sympathetic angle, but does not overlook his character flaws that withheld any material success in life.
Difficult and hot-headed, he quarrelled with those in authority. He could not manage money, and was always in debt. This book offers a critical appraisal of the man and his accomplishments. Containing never-before-published information about Moberly's personal life, which was indeed colourful, the book will certainly interest readers of exploration history and biography.
Daphne Sleigh was born in Ewell, Surrey, England, and moved to Vancouver in 1957. She became interested in BC history during the province's 1971 centennial, for which she co-wrote a history of Maple Ridge. She won the Lieutenant-Governor's Medal from the BC Historical Federation in 1984 for her book Discovering Deroche. She has written three histories and three biographies, including The Man Who Saved Vancouver. Daphne lives in Deroche, BC, with her husband, Francis.