As chief factor for the Hudson's Bay Company in the Northwest, Canadian John McLoughlin established trading posts up and down the coast, built up a community around Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River, maintained friendly relations with the Indians, befriended the missionaries and the American newcomers, and operated generally as a benevolent ruler of the area west of the Rockies, then under the joint occupancy of the United States and (British-owned) Canada. But if you've never heard of the man you get no clues from Morrison until you come across all of this in her chronological narrative. She starts abruptly in 1802, with her 18-year-old subject having to leave Quebec at the end of a medical apprenticeship because of indiscreet behavior. (Reports were that he threw a British soldier into the mud--but only by way of defending a lady.) Thereafter she calls him ""Dr. John"" as she follows his career from one wilderness post to another and finally to Fort Vancouver, where ""he was not only business manager and physician; he was judge and jury for the whole vast empire."" With frequent testimonials to Dr. John's nobility, fairness, kindness, and ability, this lifeless and adulatory chronicle reads like an official biography of the sort commissioned by companies--except that Dr. John fell out with his company toward the end. For the local history museum.