Peter Skene Ogden

Peter Skene Ogden

Peter Skene Ogden (1790–1854) served for a brief time with the American Fur Company then joined the North West Company in 1809. He had frequent run-ins with the traders from the rival Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) and engaged in physical violence on several occasions. In 1816, HBC clerks reported that Ogden had killed an Indian who had traded with the HBC. Ogden was charged with murder, and the North West Company moved him further west to attempt to avoid any further confrontations with the HBC. He served at different posts in modern-day Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia for the next several years.

As a way of ending the ongoing strife between the two companies, the HBC and the North West Company were forced to merge in 1821. Ogden’s violent history placed the now larger HBC in a quandary. The company management severely disliked and distrusted Ogden, but finally agreed that he had done no more than many others during the “fur-trade wars.” He was promoted to the rank of Chief Trader in 1823, and put in charge of the Snake River Country of the HBC’s Columbia Department Expedition. Between 1824 and 1830, Ogden set out on a series of expeditions to explore the Snake River country. One of the company’s objectives was to bring as many furs from this area as possible to the HBC so as to create a “fur desert” to discourage inroads by American trappers and traders.

Ogden was married to Julia Rivet, a Meti/Nez Perce retired to Oregon City, Oregon, with one of his several Native American wives. His contact with native tribes led him to write a memoir entitled “Traits of American Indian Life and Character. By a Fur Trader.” The book was published posthumously in 1855. He died in 1854 and is buried at the Mountain View Cemetery in Oregon City, Clackamas County, Oregon.

Victoria’s Ogden Point

Victoria’s Ogden Point Breakwater and the Ogden Point Docks are both rooted on Ogden Point, named in recognition of Ogden’s service to the company.

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