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					THE CANADIAN ATLAS ONLINE                                NORTHWEST TERRITORIES – GRADE 5
www.canadiangeographic.ca/atlas



   Alexander Mackenzie and the Mackenzie River: Replete
                    with Superlatives
Lesson Overview
In this activity the students will explore the superlatives associated with Alexander
Mackenzie’s journey of 1789 and the Mackenzie River itself. They will map the route that
Mackenzie took from Fort Chipewyan to the Arctic Ocean.

Grade Level
Grades 1 to 5

Time Required
One 60-minute lesson

Curriculum Connection
Northwest Territories - Grade 5, Canada: The Land, Histories, Stories

Link to Canadian National Geography Standards
 Essential Element #1 (Grade K-5) – The World in Spatial Terms
 Essential Element #2 (Grade K-5) – Places and Regions
 Essential Element #4 (Grade K-5) - Human Systems
 Essential Element #6 (Grade K-5) - The Uses of Geography
 Geographic Skill #2 (Grade K-5) – Acquiring geographic information
 Geographic Skill #3 (Grade K-5) – Organizing geographic information

Principal Resource
The following sections of The Canadian Atlas Online website are used in this lesson:
 Rivers of Canada: Mackenzie/Arctic and Taiga
  http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/atlas/themes.aspx?id=rivers&sub=rivers_west_mack
  enzie&lang=En
 Explore the Maps: Mackenzie
  http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/atlasmapping/index.aspx?language=EN

Additional Resources, Materials and Equipment Required
      Computer lab with access to the Internet
      Student Activity Sheet: Alexander Mackenzie and the Mackenzie River: Replete with
       Superlatives
      Outline drainage map of Canada – one for each student
      Highlighters – one for each student




CANADIAN COUNCIL FOR GEOGRAPHIC EDUCATION                                                  1
THE CANADIAN ATLAS ONLINE                                               NORTHWEST TERRITORIES – GRADE 5
www.canadiangeographic.ca/atlas


Main Objective
Students will gain an understanding of the word superlative – the unsurpassed nature – as
it applies to Alexander Mackenzie the explorer and the Mackenzie River itself.

Learning Outcomes
By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:
 Understand the word superlative.
 Access The Canadian Atlas Online website.
 Gather information using web-based resources.
 Draw conclusions about the uniqueness and impressive nature of the Mackenzie River.
 Understand the exceptional contributions and geographical achievements that Alexander
  Mackenzie made in the exploration of North America.
 Locate the Mackenzie River, Lake Athabasca, Great Bear Lake, Fort Chipewyan, Slave
  River, Great Slave Lake, and the Arctic Ocean on a map.
 Trace Alexander Mackenzie’s journey of 1789.

Lesson

                            TEACHER ACTIVITY                                      STUDENT ACTIVITY

Introduction    Ask students to brainstorm and come up with          Students participate in brainstorming session.
                 a definition for the word ‘superlative’. Guide
                 and assist them by offering synonyms such
                 as excellent, unmatched, best, outstanding,
                 and exceptional.
                Using a large wall map or any other map              Students view map of Mackenzie River.
                 source that can be viewed by all students in
                 class, point out the Mackenzie River. Probe to
                 see what they know about the Mackenzie
                 River. You may ask…
                 -Who was the river named after?
                 - Where does the river start? End? How does
                   it compare with other Canadian rivers that
                   you see on the map in respect to length?
                 - Do you think it is a ‘polluted’ or ‘unpolluted’
                   river? What leads you to this conclusion?
                Ask the students how and why the word                Students participate is class discussion.
                 superlative may be used in connection with
                 the Mackenzie River. Initiate a class
                 discussion.




CANADIAN COUNCIL FOR GEOGRAPHIC EDUCATION                                                                          2
THE CANADIAN ATLAS ONLINE                                         NORTHWEST TERRITORIES – GRADE 5
www.canadiangeographic.ca/atlas


Lesson (cont’d)

                           TEACHER ACTIVITY                                 STUDENT ACTIVITY

Lesson         Access the Rivers of Canada/Mackenzie           Students access the Rivers of
Development     River section on the CAOL website at             Canada/Mackenzie River section on the
                http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/atlas/the       CAOL website.
                mes.aspx?id=rivers&sub=rivers_west_macke
                nzie&lang=En. Instruct the students to do
                the same.
               Read the first paragraph with the students:     Students listen to reading.
                - The Mackenzie River is replete with
                   superlatives…..
               Encourage the students to tie in their          Students draw link between brainstorming
                brainstorming session and the reading they       session and reading from the CAOL site.
                just listened to.

Conclusion     Hand out the Student Activity Sheet entitled    Students complete the Student Activity Sheet
                ‘Alexander Mackenzie and the Mackenzie           entitled ‘Alexander Mackenzie and the
                River: Replete with Superlatives’                Mackenzie River: Replete with Superlatives’
               Have the students complete the Activity
                Sheet as instructed.
               Provide a blank outline drainage map of
                Canada – one for each student.
               Guide and assist when necessary.


Lesson Extension
There are several ways to extend this lesson:
 Ask the students to map Alexander Mackenzie’s second journey of 1793.
 Have the students explore why Mackenzie called his namesake river ‘Disappointment
  River’.
 Have the students explore Sir Alexander Mackenzie Provincial Park by accessing its
  website at http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/alex_mack.html.

Assessment of Student Learning
 Teacher can correct and assess the Student Activity Sheet.
 Students can be assessed on their participation in the class discussion/brainstorming
  sessions.
 A quiz could be given where students must identify an understanding of the Mackenzie
  River and the journey of Alexander Mackenzie in which he discovered it.




CANADIAN COUNCIL FOR GEOGRAPHIC EDUCATION                                                                   3
THE CANADIAN ATLAS ONLINE                                        NORTHWEST TERRITORIES – GRADE 5
www.canadiangeographic.ca/atlas


                   Student Activity Sheet:
     Alexander Mackenzie and the Mackenzie River: Replete
                      with Superlatives

PART A – THE MACKENZIE RIVER: THE SUPERLATIVE RIVER

Access the section of The Canadian Atlas Online, Mackenzie River (Arctic and Taiga) at
www.canadiangeographic.ca/atlas/themes.aspx?id=rivers&sub=rivers_west_mackenzie&lang=En

Complete the activity as instructed.

The Mackenzie River is replete with superlatives! This means that the river is almost matchless in
many of its descriptions – in many ways it is superior to all others.
    Using the CAOL site and the Mackenzie River section, complete the organizer below by filling in the
     stars with a superlative about the Mackenzie River.
    Hints: one superlative has to do with the length of the river; one with its watershed; one with its
     coverage of Canada; one with its wetland; and one having to do with the river’s state.




                                               The Mackenzie
                                                   River
                                                        is


                                                     #1




CANADIAN COUNCIL FOR GEOGRAPHIC EDUCATION                                                                  4
THE CANADIAN ATLAS ONLINE                                         NORTHWEST TERRITORIES – GRADE 5
www.canadiangeographic.ca/atlas

PART B - ALEXANDER MACKENZIE AND HIS SUPERLATIVE JOURNEY

Access the section of The Canadian Atlas Online, Mackenzie River (Arctic and Taiga) at
www.canadiangeographic.ca/atlas/themes.aspx?id=rivers&sub=rivers_west_mackenzie&lang=En

As you read in the CAOL section entitled Cultural Legacy, Alexander Mackenzie, a fur trader with the
North West Company, was the first European to travel the river from Great Slave Lake to the Arctic
Ocean in 1789. Like the river, which is named after Mackenzie, his journey was one of superlatives.
Let’s explore his journey.

    Alexander Mackenzie was a Scottish-born fur trader and explorer who charted the Mackenzie River
     and also traveled to the Pacific Ocean. From 1788 to 1796, he commanded the trading post Fort
     Chipewyan, on Lake Athabasca in Alberta. In 1789, Mackenzie set out from Fort Chipewyan on his
     first voyage in search of a route to the Pacific Ocean. A Chipewyan, who went by the English name
     English Chief, guided his party. They travelled the length of the river - 1,738- kilometers. As the
     river flowed north, it became obvious to Mackenzie that it would not reach the Pacific Ocean. Still,
     he followed it to the end.

    In 102 days the expedition travelled nearly 5000 kilometres. Their discoveries got little attention,
     though, because they were useless to the North West Company which was interested in finding a
     trade route through to the Pacific Ocean. Mackenzie was very disappointed.

    In 1793, on his second expedition, Mackenzie went from Fort Chipewyan across the Rocky
     Mountains to the Pacific coast into what is now British Columbia, going by way of the Peace,
     Parsnip, McGregor and Fraser Rivers and overland.

    By age 31, he had earned the honour of being the first European to travel across the North
     American continent north of Mexico. He had opened the continent to further exploration and trade,
     and ended guesswork about a Northwest Passage in linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

    In 1802 Mackenzie received a knighthood for his geographical achievements, and after three more
     years of work in the fur trade went back to Britain in 1805, where he married and wrote his
     account of his travels. He died at the age of fifty-six, in March 1820, two years after retiring to
     Scotland.

Complete the activity as instructed.

The journeys of Alexander Mackenzie River are replete with superlatives! This means that the man and
his travels are almost matchless in respect to their achievements – he was the first explorer to do
many things.
    Using the CAOL site and the Mackenzie River section, and the reading above, complete the
     organizer on the next page by filling in the stars with a superlative about Alexander Mackenzie and
     his journey.

    Hints: one superlative has to do with the discovering Canada’s longest river; one with travel
     across North America; one with trade; one with the Northwest Passage; and one having to do with
     travelling between a lake and an ocean.




CANADIAN COUNCIL FOR GEOGRAPHIC EDUCATION                                                                   5
THE CANADIAN ATLAS ONLINE                                    NORTHWEST TERRITORIES – GRADE 5
www.canadiangeographic.ca/atlas


PART B (cont’d)




                                           Alexander
                                           Mackenzie
                                                 is


                                                 #1




PART C -MAPPING A SUPERLATIVE JOURNEY

Complete the activity as instructed.

On a drainage map of Canada, trace Alexander Mackenzie’s journey on the river that now bears his
name.

   On the map Locate and indicate:

    Lake Athabasca            Great Bear Lake                Fort Chipewyan

    Slave River               Great Slave Lake               Arctic Ocean

   On the map Locate and highlight the Mackenzie River

(Teacher: you may wish to show the students a map of Alexander Mackenzie’s journey of 1789. You
may access a map at: http://www.collectionscanada.ca/obj/h3/f1/nlc000860-v4.jpg)




CANADIAN COUNCIL FOR GEOGRAPHIC EDUCATION                                                          6

				
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