Page last updated at 10:29 GMT, Friday, 21 August 2009 11:29 UK

Scottish earl retraces Canada trip

The Ninth Earl of Southesk travelled Western Canada between 1859 and 1860 (Photo: Rory Lee)
The Ninth Earl of Southesk visited Western Canada between 1859 and 1860

By Brandy Yanchyk
Rocky Mountains, Canada

In a bid to honour the achievements of his great-great-grandfather, a Scottish earl has just spent two weeks living in the wilderness of Canada's Rocky Mountains.

David Carnegie, the current Earl of Southesk, his wife and three sons have been following the 150 year-old journey of James, the Ninth Earl of Southesk, regarded as the first European tourist to travel through Western Canada.

Archive picture of the Ninth Earl of Southesk (Royal Alberta Museum )
The Ninth Earl wrote of "happy times" while in Canada

Using a map and journal kept by James Carnegie, Lord Southesk and his family were able to visit the same locations as their ancestor.

"Retracing my great-great-grandfather's [journey] was very emotional and there were moments when you really did feel like you were treading in his footsteps.

"As we travelled along we were able to read his book and.... find those actual features," said Lord Southesk.

The Ninth Earl of Southesk kept the journal throughout his travels between 1859 and 1860.

He also wrote poetry and a book about his trips through epic landscapes stretching from Fort Edmonton to Jasper.

Canada was a very different place then. It was Indian land and was referred to as the Hudson Bay Company's territory.

Having been widowed, James Carnegie hoped his Canadian adventure would mend a broken heart and rejuvenate his spirit.

David Carnegie Earl of Southesk (Rory Lee)
He was certainly made of sterner stuff
David Carnegie
Earl of Southesk

He wrote in his journal that he wanted "to travel in some part of the world where good sport could be met with among the larger animals and where at the same time I might recruit my health by an active open-air life, in a healthy climate".

Although the terrain and weather conditions were harsh, the trip brought James Carnegie the happiness he was looking for.

He wrote: "Long wearisome riding, indifferent monotonous eating, no sport to speak of, hard bed upon the ground, hot sun, wet, no companion of my own class; nevertheless I am happier than I have been for years."

'Wild country'

The current earl got a taste of the difficulties faced by his ancestor while travelling on horseback through the Rockies, which he describes as still "very, very wild country, very, very unvisited country".

"He was certainly made of sterner stuff. As you can imagine travelling 150 years ago was much harder and also where we just went there is now a trail," says Lord Southesk.

"When [James Carnegie] was travelling he had to fight his way through."

The Southesk famiy riding through the Canadian wilderness (Bryan Hamilton)
The family retraced the journey using a journal written by their ancestor

When the Ninth Earl of Southesk came to Western Canada he accumulated artefacts relating to the First Nations and Metis, two of three officially recognised aboriginal peoples in Canada.

Much of the Southesk Collection - as it came to be known - made its way back to Canada three years ago, when the Royal Alberta Museum bought them for $1.1m (£665,000) at an auction in New York.

For 147 years these artefacts had been kept in Scotland at the Southesk family castle.

Now, the collection is being seen and appreciated by a much wider audience.

Susan Berry, a curator at the Royal Alberta Museum says: "It felt like closing the circle of travels to bring [these artefacts] back here where they can help us tell a story of the Metis, fur traders in Western Canada, as well as the Earl of Southesk's own story.

A saddle as used by the aboriginal Metis people of Canada (Royal Alberta Museum )
More than $1m was paid for items from the Southesk collection

"I mean he is the one who collected these objects and his story is the link that ties them together."

The Ninth Earl's writings continue to shed new light onto the history of the Southesk collection, and the people connected to it.

"For me the most exciting aspect of the collection is the possibility of following clues provided in the written journals that can lead us to aboriginal and Metis individuals who are associated with the objects," says Ms Berry.

"[These people] had made them in some instances, had owned them or sold them to the Earl of Southesk."

The Royal Alberta Museum is currently creating an online exhibit of the artefacts so that people around the world can see this rare collection.

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