Biography

Tom Laidlaw  holds a BS in Theatre Arts from Portland State University. His love of history and many treks on the Oregon and other Historic Trails have led him to use his acting skills for Historical Interpretation. His programs have delighted and informed thousands.
FOR eleven years Tom was a volunteer interpreter at Fort Vancouver, WA, where he developed the character of William Cannon, first blacksmith, millwright, and American at the British fur trading post. The fort was HQ of the Columbia Department of the Hudson's Bay Company from 1824 to 1845. William Cannon's life was involved with so much of United States History that Tom can adapt a basic script to almost any area of the route of Westward Expansion. from Cowpens to Champoeg. These programs are perfect for amplifying standard teaching of Northwest History, and for any group involved in preserving the history of our nation.
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addition to William Cannon, Tom portrays Peter Skene Ogden, George Abernethy, Columbia Lancaster, Meriwether Lewis, and George Robert Twelves Hewes
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IS research is excellent, involving not only library research, but re-tracing the footsteps of the characters he portrays and talks about. And that is a wide expanse, from King's Mountain South Carolina to Fort Mackinac, across the mountains to the mouth of the Columbia River, to Fort Vancouver, to Champoeg. In 2002 he participated in a reenactment of the first fur brigade to the Central Oregon Coast, rowing a longboat from Vancouver to Willamette Falls, just as his character, Cannon, did in 1826. He is currently involved in building a replica Chinook Plankhouse at the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge. His lively, authoritative presentations have been enjoyed by thousand of visitors to Fort Vancouver, several Oregon State Parks,  many Oregon and Washington schools and civic and historical organizations, such as:

  • Daughters of the American Revolution

  • Sons of the American Revolution

  • Friends of Historic Champoeg

  • Newell House Museum

  • Area Schools

  • National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center

  • Elderhostel West long distance tours

  • Southern Oregon University "Adventures Afloat" Programs

  • Alton Collins Retreat Center

  • Ocean Park Retreat Center

  • Lewis and Clark CruiseTours

  • Skamokawa Center Kayaking programs

  • NPS Tent of Many Voices during the L&C bicentennial

For the last eleven years Tom has been instructor for Elderhostel's long distance tour "A New Nation's Journey West". This is an 18 day bus trip from St. Charles, MO to Astoria, OR following Lewis and Clark. He does one complete trip each year and is step-on interpreter at the end of the trail from Skamakowa, WA to Astoria, OR for all  trips. This End of the Trail tour is available to other groups, also. He has been instructor on more than 60 Elderhostel programs with various NW History presentations.
T
om
is a member of the Northwest Chapter of the Oregon - California Trails Association (OCTA), where he  regularly participates in historical hikes, seminars, and trail - tours.
H
e
is also a member of the Washington Chapter of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation (LCTHF), where he serves as webmaster of wa-lcthf.org. With other members he is often found at historical seminars or "on the ground", conducting personal research into the route of Lewis and Clark. He has traveled much of the Lewis and Clark Trail carrying his own 15 star, 15 stripe flag and flying it where the Corps of Discovery flew theirs.

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Tom Laidlaw
1607 Franklin St. # A
Vancouver, WA 98660
360-695-4824
tomlaidlaw@comcast.net      tomlaidlaw.com