Irene Ternier Gordon

Writer and Historical Researcher

My Grandfather as a Superhero

A number of people have had difficulty finding the story "My Grandfather as a Superhero" on my website. It is accessible from my personal biography page or by clicking HERE.

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Alexander Ross, like several other fur traders I have written about, was a Scottish Highlander. Unlike the others, however, he began his career on the West Coast of North America. After 15 years he retired to the Red River Settlement where he and his Okanogan First Nations Wife Sally raised a large family. He farmed, did some trading, was active in local politics, and wrote several books about his experiences. 

Life often was not easy for Ross. After several hair-rising experiences on their ocean voyage , he and his colleagues  finally  reached the West Coast in 1811, after almost being abandoned on a deserted island.

“The ship’s off!”  When all of us...beheld...the Tonquin, under full sail, steering out of the bay we knew too well the callous and headstrong passions of the wayward captain to hesitate a moment in determining what to do;...some [of us] made for the boat, whilst others kept running and firing over hill and dale to warn...[two men] who had not yet returned....We...[stowed] ourselves into a trumpery little  boat...In this dreadful dilemma, we launched on a rough and tempestuous sea, and, against wind and tide, followed the ship.

His welcome to the Red River was almost equally dramatic. He described 1826 as "One of the most fatal, both as to life and property that ever befell Red River."

It was not until the beginning of May when the ice started to move on the Red River that people realized they had another serious problem. The water rose nine feet in 24 hours, overflowing the river banks and spreading over land to people’s houses almost before they were aware of the danger. By May fifth everyone had abandoned their homes for higher ground. “The most singular spectacle,” Ross wrote, “was a house in flames, drifting along in the half immersed in water, and the remainder furiously burning.”

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