British Columbia History

BC Historical News Mar 2, 1971

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Vol. 4 No. 2 February 1971
Published November, February, April and June each year by the
British Columbia Historical Association. Subscription rates: Free
to members of all affiliated societies, or $3«50 per year, including
postage, directly from the Editor, Mr P. A. Yandle, 3450 West 20th
Avenue, Vancouver 8, B.C.
Hon. Patron: Lieut.Gov. J.R. Nicholson
Hon. President: Dr Margaret Ormsby
President:. Mr H. R. Brammall
Past President: Mrs Mabel E. Jordon
1st Vice-President: • Mr D.. Schon
2nd Vice-President: • Mr G. T. German
Sec. & Editor: -. Mr P. A. Yandle
Treasurer:   .- .r.Mrs- H. R. Brammall
Exec. -Committee.: Mr D. New .
. . .' Mr H. B. Nash
Society Notes & Comments
Book Reviews
Essay Competiton
The Spanish "Presence" on .
the Northwest coast, by
Tomas Bartroli
* *
FRONT COVER The Museum at Prince Rupert, B.C., second in a series
drawn specially for the News by Vancouver membor Robert Genn. EDITORIAL
Ho hum, another Centennial, and the last one still not paid
fort Nowhere has it been truly stated what we are all supposed to
be celebrating, other than the existence of British Columbia as a
Province within Confederation. If that is the case then it must be
considered as something "good" as it seems hardly possible to
celebrate something "bad". With the present stress on saving our
environment before it's too late, the history of our past 100 years
should provide a lesson in what not to do for the future. Our
greatest fear for the future is not what we ourselves must do but
what we must prevent our neighbours from doing to us. We still have
a beautiful province, and it behooves all of us to make certain it
stays that way. This can only happen if we use "foresight" and use
the history of this province to provide "hindsight". For the past
decade our fears for the future were founded on the fact that we
were the "buffer zone" between two great powers and could become
a military no man's land. Now a new dimension has been added -
industrial pollution - within and without. Our whole coastline is
threatened by the thought of huge oil tankers using our coastal
waters, not to mentiCn the alternative of pipe-lines through the
province. The greedy interested parties assure us nothing will
happen because all is well, and safety precautions will positively
guarantee there will be no accidents. Man might be able to go to
the moon and back but he still hasn't tamed -nature yet. I was
brought up to believe that there were only two things certain in
this life and that was death and taxes, and I see no reason to
include marine safety.
"Nam tua res agitur, paries cum proximus ardet."
"It is your own interest that is at stake when your next
neighbour's wall is ablaze," (Horace Epistles)
Minutes of the Third Council Meeting of the 1970-71 season
of the British Columbia Historical Association, held at 1654 Warren
Gardens, Victoria on February l4th, 1971. Present: Mr R. Brammall
(Pres,), Mrs M. Jordon (Past Pres.), Mrs P. Brammall (Treas.),
Mr P. Yandle (Sec), Mr G. T. German (2nd Vice-Pres.), Mr H.B. Nash
(Exec, Member), Mrs Adams (Alberni &Dist.), Mrs C. Claxton (Gulf
Islands), Mr Leeming (Victoria), Mr F. Wilson (Burnaby), Mrs Anne
Yandle (Vancouver).
The President called the meeting to order at 2.00 p.m. and
it was moved Mr Wilson, seconded Mr Nash that the minutes of the
second Council Meeting be adopted as circulated, - Carried.
A letter was read that had been received by the President
from Mr F. Hardwick and it was the unanimous opinion of Council that
the contents were not relevant to the aims and objects of the
Association and that it should therefore be received and filed. ESSAY COMPETITION There was considerable discussion on the forthcoming competition which has a deadline of midnight March 15th,
1971 for the receipt of entries. It was moved Mrs Adams, seconded
Mr Nash that the judges panel shall consist of Mrs M. Jordon, Mr G.
Newell and Mrs Anne Yandle. - Carried. Arising out of the discussion
it was also moved Mrs P. Brammall, seconded Mr F. Wilson that a
certain standard of excellence shall be expected and it shall be to
the discretion of the Judges' Panel to decide, that should this
standard not be met in any one of the categories, then the Association
shall not be obligated to award the full amount of the prize money
for that category, - Carried.
B.C> HISTORICAL NEWS The Editor asked that Council give some consideration to his proposal that he should have a commitment from
each Society, early in the Fall, as to the number of copies of the
B.C. Historical News that they will require for the four issues,
November, February, April and June, which is the working year of
the incumbent Council. Since the number of copies of each issue of
the News supplied in bulk ibo the Secretaries is based on the per
capita dues paid for that period in February, then the amount paid
by each-Society, $1.00 per member, shou;.ld correspond with the
number of copies requested in the Fall for the coming year.
Arising out of the discussion it was moved Mrs P„ Brammall,
seconded Mrs Jordon that Council recommend to all affiliated
Societies that they must submit their requirements to the Editor
not later than October 15th of each year, of the number of copies
of News thay will want for each issue and this number shall then
set the amount of per capita dues to be paid in February, and the
Treasurer to notify all Societies accordingly. - Carried.
CONVENTION Mr Leeming presented the following programme for the
Convention to be held in Victoria on May 27th, 28th and 29th„ 1971
as follows:- May 27th, 7.30 p.m. Registration and coffee party.
Commander Coning will make an address of welcome to the delegates,,
May 28th. Newcombe Auditorium, Council meeting and registration^
9cr0a„m. - 10*00 a.m. Annual General Meeting 10.00 a.m., opening
with an address by Mayor J. Courtenay Haddock of Victoria, and
recessing at 12,15 p«.m. Lunch 12„30 p.m. (sharp) at Queen Victoria
Inn, with President's address, recessing at 2.00 Government
House 3.00 p«m. and tea will be served at 3«30 p.m. New Council
meeting 5>00 p,m,, Newcombe Auditorium. Tour of the Archives
conducted by Mr Willard Ireland 7.30 p.m. May 29th. 9=00 a.m.
Trip to Fort Rodd Hill and Royal Roads. Afternoon arrangements
not decided yet- Banquet at Faculty Club, University of Victoria
6.30 p^, No host bar,, 7,00 p.m. Dinner. (Guest, speaker to be arranged)
NEW BUSINESS The British Columbia Genealogical Society,, with headquarters in Richmond, has made a request through the Secretary for
affiliation with the B.C. Historical Association and it was the
feeling of Council tha& they should postpone their request until
such time as they had an established list of elected officers and
their own constitution. Council extended an invitation to their
membership to attend the forthcoming Convention in Victoria. The President raised for discussion the question of future
sites for Conventions and Mrs Adams stated that the Alberni and
District Society would be interested in hosting the Convention in
1073 • Mrs Brammall undertook the responsibility of seeking sites
for future Conventions.
It was moved Mrs Jordon, seconded Mr Wilson that the B.C.
Historical Association seek affiliation with the American Association
for State and Local History. - Carried.
Moved Mrs Jordon, seconded Mr Nash that the meeting adjourn
at 5.15 P.m.
ALBERNI  For their Centennial theme the Alberni Society is
planning to use the petroglyphs at Sproat Lake as indicative of
the art of the very early residents of the Valley. The Society is
also cooperating with the Girl Guides in their Centennial project
"Know B.C, better, know your Government better", by assisting with
■-eseareh, providing artifacts for display, etc,
BURNABY At the Burnaby Historical Society's meeting in December
the guest speaker was the Chairman of the Burnaby Centennial
Committee, who outlined plans for the foundation of Heritage Park
and Museum, a project in which the Burnaby So'ciety is actively
GULF ISLANDS In July Mr Toraas Bartroli visited the Gulf Islands
Historical Society and delighted his audience with his tales of the
early Spanish explorers of the coast. In August the Society discussed the annual bursary which was awarded to Miss Jean Azak of
Bella Bolla. Mr Bruce Scott, author of Breakers Ahead (reviewed
elsewhere in this issue) spoke to the October meeting about
Vancouver Island's west coast, of the dangers of commercial
encroachment to which designated park land is exposed, and of the
need for an informed and vigilant public to protect it.
EAST KOOTENAY Much of the East Kootenay's activities have been
concerned with Fort Steele. For the records of the Fort Steele
Restoration Foundation Mrs Mabel Jordon procured from Ottawa the
names of twenty-five members of the Northwest Mounted Police
detachment who were stationed at Fort Steele in 1887. More early
pictures of area Indians and whites were procured by members of
the Society and identified, for the purpose of making plaques for
the Museum, The Opera House at Fort Steele is progressing,
despite a shut-down during recent cold weather. It is not known
yet whether it will be ready for a live vaudeville show this
Thanks to Captain W.A. (Andy) Anderson the Association members
enjoyed an interesting ride on the river boat "S.W. Kootenay" on
June 13th. After a pleasant trip down the Kootenay River, a stop was made at the site of the old North Star Landing, Mrs B. Oliver
told of the early river boating days and the thousands of tons of ore
which were hauled from the North Star mine at Kimberley and loaded
at this p.oint on the steamboats.
On August l6th, in connection with Cranbrook's "Sam Steele
Days" celebration, the Association sponsored a Gold Panning Expedition up Wild Horse Creek. Some 150 people topk advantage of the
opportunity to try their hands at the twirling art, under the guid
ance of Al Hunter, the chief instructor, Guests were present from
as far afield as Los Angeles, California.
The annual International Picnic with the Bonners Ferry, Idaho,
Historical Society was held at Goat River, B.C. on September 13th.
After brief talks by various old and new timers, the restored early-
day cemetery there was inspected. The Creston Knights of Pythias
Lodge have been appointed official trustees of this closed cemetery
and the East Kootonay Association has been working closely with them.
They now have a registered map of the area. Thanks to Mr J. Fritz
water has been obtained for the grass plot which the lodge is preparing, as well as a plaque and fencing.
WEST KOOTENAY At their first meeting of the Fall- Season the West
Kootenay Society travelled, by way of comments and slides, with
member Mrs Ethel Mcintosh on her trip to. the South Pacific area
where she visited Australia, New Zealand and Fiji,
At the November meeting there was considerable discussion on
the subject of facilities to house the Society:'s museum pieces,
photographs (which are mounted and ready for display) and records.
A letter was read from Mayor DoVito reporting on his suggestion to
the Trail City Council that the City of Trail sponsor and finance
a wing of tho Rossland Historical Museum specifically for Trail
artifacts. The two communities are so tied together that a wing
in the already existing excellent Rossland Museum would be better
than a less desirable location in crowded Trail. The Society's
President, Mr F, Edwards proposed .to attend a meeting between Trail
City Council and the Rossland Historical Museum on February 10th.
The speaker of the evening was Mr Harold Webber, Vice-President of the Kootenay Doukhobor Historical Society, with headquarters
in Castlegar, Mr Webber described the aims of the Society and gave
a brief history of the Doukhobor people and the reasons behind their
Mr Gibson Kennedy spoke at the January meeting on the history
of the railroads of the southern interior of British Columbia,
covering the period between the "crossing of Canada by the C.P.R. in
1885 and the final link around the southern end of Kootenay Lake in
1931. During that time something like 32 charters to build railroads
were issued - and they had their ups and downs in more ways than one.
Mr Kennedy pointed out that an examination of a map of southern B.C.
shows a fairly easy access from the United States of rail lines to
feed the south-north valleys., but to build a line across the
mountain ranges required some ingenuity, Pictures of the old wooden trestle bridges on the KetHe Valley Railroad bore witness.
The speaker detailed many of the lines serving various mines,
concluding with some interesting slides of various types of
engines, passenger coaches, etc.
NANAIMO The Nanaimo Society is promoting.a historical pageant to
be produced on July 1st as a Centennial event, The Centennial
Committee, along with the Arts Council, have formed a pageant
committee, with representatives from drama groups, ethnic groups,
Malaspina College, and the Historical Society. A pageant-writing
competition was set up, open to all B.C. writers, with a prize of
$250. There is a proposal that Nanaimo have a Dominion Day parade,
that Nanaimo citizens be encouraged to dress in old time costumes
for that day., that afterwards everyone be encouraged to adjourn to
Bowen Park for an old-time picnic, and then end the day at the
pageant. The Historical Society's main responsibility is to supply
historical data and to check the chosen script from the point of view
of historical accuracy.
VANCOUVER At their November meeting a talk was given to the Vancouver
Historical Society on the growth of radio in Vancouver, by Mr David
Savage, author of the well known and long lived C.B.C. programme,
The Carson Family. At this meeting Mr E. A. Aim, who made a
generous donation towards the publication of Vancouver's Svenskar,
was presented with a specially bound and engraved copy of Svenskar
on the occasion of his induction as an Honorary Patron of the
In January, Professor Stanley Read, a past Chairman of the
Vancouver Public Library Board, gave a talk on the Library in
Vancouver, covering in witty fashion the Library from the first
Mechanics' Institute to the present Public Library.
VICTORIA At the Victoria Society's November meeting, Dr Margaret
Ormsby, Head of the Department of History, University of B.C.,
presented the Canadian Historical Association's award for Local
History to Mrs Barbara Lowther for her Bibliography of B.C., 1849-
I899. Following the presentation, Dr Ormsby addressed the meeting
on her chosen topic "Sir James Douglas and the Natives".
The December meeting took the form of a Christmas dinner held
at the Faculty Club, University of Victoria. Over 100 members
enjoyed tho festive evening, especially the address by a former
president of the Victoria Branch, Col. G. S. Andrews. His talk was
a word picture of living conditions in the northern part of British
Columbia in tho early 1920's. JOTTINGS
Mr Harley Hatfield of the Okanagan Historical Association
writes that they are trying to mount a campaign and ask for support
from all historical and conservation groups for the H.B.C. Brigade
Trail of 1849-60 from Hope to Tulameen. They found and remarked
quite an additional length of the actual trail last summer, and
expect to take some 36 men arid boys, mostly Boy Scout Venturers,
from Hope to Tulameen this summer.
Recently received was the second Newsletter of the Doukhobor
Historical Society, Box 58I, Castlegar, B.C. The Society's aims
are to preserve, the historical and cultural heritage of the Doukhobors, restore a. communal village and preserve the hor^ industries
of the Doukhobor people. Castlegar and Kinnaird have accepted the
first stage of the village as their joint Centennial project._ A
tentative site has been found' and plans have been prepared for a
complete village and communal house. Artifacts are being collected
for the reconstruction and books and pamp hlets are being collected
for their archives. A successful venture was tho Doukhobor summer
market which sold more than $6000 worth of merchandise, 10$ of the
proceeds being given to the Society. It is hoped that construction
can begin as soon as the ground is dry as the Centennial proj: .ect
must be completed in 1971*
The Interior Lumber Manufacturers' Association, Ste 4,
44 West Padmore, Penticton, B.C. is canvassing on behalf of the
Provincial. Museum which is planning a display to be located in
Golden, entitled "The Forest Industry in British Columbia 1778 -
1973"• They are searching for the following material:
Saw Blades Pulley & Bolts
Hand Trucks & Wagons Small Cut-off Saw
Springboard Double Blade Axes
Safety Belts Period Photographs & related
Wedges ...        Literature, Documents, Etc.
Fire Barrel Peaveys
Old Drill Press Crosscut Saws
Other associated equipment Hand Tools
It is to be hoped that sufficient pressure can be brought
to bear to make sure that the present dispute regarding the
Nitinat Triangle can be resolved to insure its inclusion in the West
Coast National Park. The usual ammunition is being used by the
Council of Forest Industries - namely mass unemployment if they
cannot log this area. Prince Rupert has formed a Historical Society and will hold
its inaugural meeting on Sunday February 21st. The Council and, I'm
sure, all members of the B.C. Historical Association send their
congratulations and look forward to having them join with us.
BREAKERS AHEAD by R. Bruce Scott. Sidney, Review Publishing House,
1970. Available from the Author, 1173 Hewlett Place, Victoria,
B.C. for $4.50 including sales tax and postage, or from leading
bookstores for $4.00 plus tax.
To employ a tired, old non-nautical phrase, this book ploughs
into a field that has already been worked over. It remains to be
seen if anything new is turned up.
What do we have? Basically, a paper-back, covering tho wrecks
and groundings of ships on a specifically defined stretch of the
West Coast of Vancouver Island - the 'Graveyard of the Pacific'.
An area that has been limited to that of the author's own deeply
felt and expressed personal knowledge.
Is it a legal axiom (or fiction) that the truth, in the mouth
of an eye-witness, is almost always unreliable? Especially when there
are two or more eye-witnesses - and their remarks are published -
For instance, in two separate publications (Breakers Ahead
being one of them), a specific loss of life is, in one publication,
attributed to having-been caused by a life-boat knocking over and
.killing the parties concerned. In another publication - dealing
with the same story - it is the fall of a main mast that causes the
above deaths. Again, in one publication, the statement is made that
no cargo could be salvaged. In another publication the statement
comes forth that cargo was salvaged. Again, in one publication ...
"three life-boats were launched", in another "only two".
.So, wherein does the truth lie ... or what paper do you read?
One could have wished for a bit more detail concerning the
ships themselves - details that could have been obtained from such
basic references as Lloyd's Register. A brief mention of, in most
cases, tonnage, is not too satisfactory - as it is not quite clear
enough an indicator as to the actual size or nature of the ship
A minor, though irritating, point; it would have been of
considerable, aid to the reader if the listing of the name of a Ship
had been carried ouht in standard practice, i.o. in type face
differing from that of the general text.
The printing of the-basic reference map of the area, which is
the subject of the book, on the outside of the back cover is an error. It is not easy to refer to physically and the Indicated wreck sites
are in print too small for, normal legibility.   , '■
..Nevertheless, it is a useful and handy book. It has been
produced in a compact and relatively inexpensive format and, with
the burgeoning interest in our local history, should prove to be an
appreciated addition to history buffs' shelves.
■ Entertaining, it is not. Disaster.and death - effected
either by man or by nature - are-not subjects for general light-
heartedness. The author brings no great new historical revelations
to the subject (it is doubtful if the exact truth and sequence of
events can, in most cases, ever be determined), but he does bring the
viewpoint of a special pleader - that for Safety at Sea (and on
Land). In view of man's continuing sorry record in both these
areas, it is well that voices like Bruce Scott's should be raised.
We need more of them. ;'-
L. G. McCann
hMr MoCann^is .Assistant Curator, Maritime Museum, Vancouver, B.C.
Frontier Days of Vancouver Island, by E. Blanche Norcross and Doris
Farmer Tonkin. Courtenay, Island Books, 1969. $3.95 Available
from the publishers and from bookstores in.Vancouver and Van.Island.
■Frontier Days of Vancouver Island is a collection of thirty-
nine essays most of which were written by Miss Norcross and Mrs
Tonkin during the past two decades for publication in newsp apers
and periodicals. In this book they have arranged the essays within
seven chapters using the ingenious device of entitling each
chapter a "Frontier". The first chapter, or "Frontier One", is
"Landfall". It concerns -Nootka, -the earliest settlements there,
the Inaian-white man contact, and the subsequent history of the
area, "Frontier Two" - Hudson's Bay Company towns.1' - has Victoria
and Nanaimo as its subject matter, and this is succeeded by "Tales
of -two valleys" (Comox and Cowichan), "The logger is king", "Turn of
tho century",, "Power centre" (Campbell Rivor) , and "Tho last frontier"
(N.Vancouver Island).
Arranging these essays - which presumably were not written
with their compilation in book form in mind - must hav® presented
the authors, with seemingly insuperable problems. Surprisingly
thoir approach has succeeded in giving coherenco to the collection.
Once the reader is prepared- to vault in time, and, to a lesser
extent, in space, from essay to essay, he will find the arrangement
The authors tell us in their "Foreword" that they "intend to
glance quickly at the landscape as it was and as it is, and how
the people make their living. Mostly, though, we'll be meeting
people", (p.12) These, objectives they fulfill. It must be remembered, however, that the picture, they present is not a comprehensive
one. The essays are quick .glances, but the scenes they provide of
life in Vancouver Island are nonetheless interesting, no doubt in 10
large part due to the fact that the authors' "favourite subject" is
"The Island". While they are obviously more comfortable in some
areas than in others, their work is consistently readable. They
have a warm sympathy for the men and women thoy portray - particularly
pleasing to read was Miss Norcross's "Love and the labour movement"
which concerns the Sam Guthries of Ladysmith.
Throughout the essays the authors haveafortunate way o£  saying
what they want to say, though the newspaperman's habit of writing in
short, one- or two-sentence paragraphs mars the effect of some
passages. Because of the good humour which prevails in the essays,
I was surprised to come across Mrs Tonkin's caustic comment that
"Indiscriminate digging (at Cumberland) was stopped. ... by a wise
man who took out a lease on the richest area, and now charges
people for permission to dig", (p.73) : However we can rejoice in
such a laps© in a day when conservation of our historical resources
is almost a hot political issue.
George Newell
Mr Newell is an archivist in the. Provincial Archives, Victoria.
Recently published:
History of Port Edward, 1907 - 1970, by Gladys Blyth. Copies
available at $4,75 plus %  tax from Mrs Gladys Blyth, Port Edward, B.C.
It is t° Mrs Blyth*s credit that she has compiled and published
the only history of this town, and it will find a place among the
local histories of the province.
"Some historical aspect of V...   British Columbia within
the Canadian Confederation from an economic, political,
scientific or social point of view."
DEADLINE: March 15th, 1971
For details see the June issue of the News.
May. 27th, 28th and 29th at Victoria. (See page 3 )
We hope to get" a good turnout for Centennial Year.
See the April issue of the News for full details
and registration form. 11
by Tomas Bartroli
The North Pacific, earlyXVEEE century: At the time of her discovery of America and of the Pacific Ocean, Spain began to claim
exclusive sovereignty over all of the western parts of the Continent
and. aimed at gradually colonising them and at exercising control over
tho whole of the Ocean. Although other powers challenged such
wide-ranging claims, Spain maintained them right down to the 18th
century and indeed tried' to have them incorporated into international
treaties. By the first quarter of that century she had under her
control most of the western zone of America, from its southern tip
to .about tho present northern boundary of Mexico. The northern
portion of this territory belonged to a very large administrative
area officially named New Spain, (but also referred to as Mexico),
run by a viceroy and with its capital in Mexico City. The coast
farther north had been explored during the l6th and 17th centuries
in the course of sporadic voyages of the Spanish Royal Navy, but
only up to about latitudes 42 and 43 degrees. Aside from these,
the only known exploration of that part of the -coast had boen
effected by tho British privateer Francis Drake (in 1579), who
named the aroa New Albion, after the old poetic name for Britain.
The North Pacific unknown: The coast and mainland farther north
were inhabited by peoples in an elementary stage of civilization
having no direct contact, with the "civilized" parts of the world.
These nations had no verified knowledge of the realities of the
northwest areas of America and the northern reaches of the Pacific
Ocean, but thero.was much interest, and,, for want of knowledge,
several legends and assumptions were current, described and
delineated in accounts and cartography which, in retrospect, appear
fantastic and even amusing.
One of tho main concerns waswhether or not the northern territories of Asia and America made contact or were separated by water
or ice; in other, words., whether there was navigable communication
between the northern waters of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
Somehow or other the ..notion spread that there was a channel which,
cutting through North America, connected 'the two oceans. Viewed
from wostorn Europe this hypothetical passage would lie in a northwesterly direction and it was' often referred to as "The Northwest
Passage", especially, in England. This nation eagerly searched for
it by exploring the. coast of what is now. Eastern Canada (and incidentally discovering Hudson Bay and Baffin Bay) but, of course, in
vain, as there was'- no such navigable waterway.1'
Imaginary Spanish discoveries: Spain',., having dominions in America
on the. .littorals of both oceans, had no particular need of an inter-
oceanic waterway and made only half-hearted efforts in searching
for it.. Yet in the course of :tlme rumours and reports arose to
the effect that mariners in the service of Spain had found such a
waterway. Of these alleged discoveries three were to have considerable
influence in the actual exploration of the North Pacific and its
American coast, Hore is a brief account of them: 12
(a) A book published in England in 1625 reported that in 1592
a Greek called Apostolos Valerianos had been an officer in the
Spanish Navy, in which he was known under the name of Juan de Fuca.
He had sailed from the Mexican port of Acapulco in command of a ship
under orders -to search for the Strait of Anian. Navigating up the
coast he found, between latitudes 47° and 48°, an entrance which
turned out to be that of the sought-after Strait. He sailed the
length of it and ascertained that it connected with the "North Sea"
(implying the North Atlantic).
(b) In an English magazine of 1708 there appeared a letter
stating that in 1640 a naval expedition with three ships under the
overall command of one Bartholomew da Fonte, described as Admiral
of New Spain and Prince of Chile (titles which never existed in
fact), having set out from the Peruvian port of El Callao discovered,
on latitude 53° of the Northwest Coast of America, a series of
interlocking channels and lakes leading to the Atlantic,
(c) In Spain, around J.609, one Lorenzo Maldonado (or Ferrer-
Maldonado) recounted that in 1588 a ship, apparently Spanish, setting
out from Lisbon (then under the Spanish Crown) had crossed the
Atlantic, entered the Davis Strait, proceeded up to latitude 75°
North thon, turning west southwest, found the Strait of Anian and
ascertained that it debouched on the American coast of the Pacific,
approximately on latitude 60° North.
Each of these reports contain- fantastic details on the alleged
waterway. None received much acceptance upon first appearance but
all were to be given much credence and publicity, in books and maps,
during the 18th century, especially after the Russians had initiated
the exploration of tho northern coasts of the Pacific.  Furthermore
Spain's secrecy concerning her possessions and discoveries in the New
World contributed to their rocoiving much credibility throughout
Russian activity and Spanish reaction: By the early part of the 18th
century the territories of the Russian Empire had stretched across
Siberia as far as the Kamchatka Peninsula on the Pacific coast, and
this fact partly explains why it was this Empire which seized the
initiative in making the first systematic exploration of the northern
reaches of the Pacific.
This exploration began with two maritime voyages, under the
command of Vitus Bering, setting put from the Kamchatka coast.
During the first voyage, undertaken in 1721, the strait now called
after Bering was explored. During the second voyage, in 1742, were
discovered the Komandor Islands, some of the Aleutians and some
portions of the northwest coast of America between latitudes $6°  and
60° north. Incidentally it was observed that these various territories contained an abundance of animals, bearing furs of the type
which were highly prized in Asia and Europe. Shortly thereafter,
adventurous men setting out in flimsy craft from the Kamchatka coast,
began to journey to these islands in search of furs, Proceeding in a
natural East-West progression, starting at tho Komandor Islands, by
1772 these adventurers had already covered most of the Aloutian 13
archipelago and there was a move afoot favouring official incorporation of tho area into the Russian Empire. Vague information on these
events and moves belatedly reached Spain which, still considering this
part of America as exclusively her own, became fearful lest the Russians
would establish themselves permanently there. This fear was the main
incentive which prompted the Spanish Empire to undertake, from Mexico,
under the leadership of successive Viceroys of New Spain, an expansion
which materialised in two concurrent endeavours (a) the beginning
of the colonization of what is now the State of California (U.S.A.)
started in 1768; and (b) some exploration of the coast stretching
north of California, and an effort to set up outposts thereon.
In this second endeavour, which is the subject of this study,
there were two periods of activity: one between 1.774 and 1779,  and
the other between 1788 and 1796. This actually required several
voyages, most of which sot out from the port of San Bias on the
Pacific coast of Mexico,
Throe Spanish voyages and one British: The activities of the first
period consisted of three maritime voyages undertaken from San Bias
between 1774 and 1779, with orders to explore the coast to the north
of California., ascertain the extent of the Russian presence there,
carry out landings at suitable locations, take official possession
of them on behalf of Spain, and. study the area and its inhabitants.
(1) In 1774 Juan Perez, in command of one Ship, explored the coast
between California and Dixon Entrance (Lat. 51°N.), but sighted only
some stretches of it, here and there. He attempted landing at two
differont parts of the coast, now part of British Columbia, the
northwestern extremity of the Queen Charlotte Islands, and a bay or
bight which ho named San Lorenzo, on tho west coast of Vancouver
Island, estimating its latitude as being 49°30 . At both of these
places bad weather marred the efforts to land, but natives of the
vicinity, paddling canoes, approached the ship and exchanged articles
and friendly greetings with the crew.
(2) In 1775 two ships, commanded by Bruno de Heceta (or Hezeta) and
Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra, explored stretches of the
coast "up" to about latitude 58°, effecting landings on the parts
now belonging to California, Washington and Southern Alaska (Panhandle).
In some places they had encounters with natives who were generally
friendly, but on the Washington coast a tribe fell upon a group of
six Spaniards and apparently killed them all.
(3) In 1779 two vessels, commanded by Ignacio Arteaga and the aforementioned Bodega y Quadra, reconnoitered some tracts of the Alaska
coast from about latitude 55°  to the Trinity Islands (southeast of
Kodiak Island), The voyagers landed in several places and searched
for indications of a possible navigable passage to the Atlantic,
This voyage was carried out in complete ignorance of the fact
that during tho previous, year a British naval exp edition, led by
Captain James Cook, had explored, albeit only cursorily, the enormous
length of coast from Oregon to the Bering Strait, searching in particular for the inter-oceanic passage. The expedition made a stay at 14
Nootka Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Lat. 49°35 •
Some years later tho Spanish began to maintain that this was precisely the spot which Perez had named San Lorenzo during his voyage
of 1774 and consequently, they had discovered Nootka.
It is definitely possible that the bight or bay which Peroz
called San Lorenzo was the bay adjacent to the Nootka Inlet. The
data .iri the records of the Perez voyage is not specific enough to
prove or disprove the point, but, in any case, the voyagers did not
enter such an inlet, did. not even notice its entrance, and did not
effect any landings in that region. For these and other reasons
the Spanish claim to discovery of Nootka is almost groundless and
the credit for the discovery must be given to Cook.
Interlude: 1779 to 1788: In 1779 Spain declared war on Great Britain,
siding with France in support of the thirteen British Colonies in
Nort h America which were striving for independence. Spain continued her colonization of California but, largely because of the
demandr the war made on her navy, discontinued the voyages of
exploration to tho coast further north, and for 'nine years no
Spanish vessel appeared on it.
From 1779 to 1785 the only strangers operating on the northwest
coast were Russians engaged in gathering peltry. They gradually
expanded eastwards from the Aleutian Islands, eventu ally covering
the southern coast of the Alaska peninsula; they made some incursions further eastward as far as Prince William Sound and set up
a few outposts hore and there.
The war ended officially in ,1783 and the rebel British
Colonies became the United States of America.
From tho year 1785 vessels of British ownership, setting out
from different parts of the world, began to visit the coast between
Oregon and Boring Strait to purchase furs from the natives. In I786
two vessels of the French Navy explored parts of tho coast. These
various voyages made some contributions towards the knowledge and
charting of the coast, tho main ones being (a) the discovery of the
entrance to a sea arm between latitudes 48° and 49°, which was named
Strait of Juan dc Fuca from the assumption that it was the interoceanic
passage of the Fuca story; (b) the. realization of the existence of the
Queen Charlotte Islands. However, the fact that there also existed a
large island, now named Vancouver Island, was not yet realized.
1788 - A Spanish voyage - Developments at Nootka Belatedly, vague
and oftentimes inaccurate reports concerning the activities of
Russians, Britons and French on tho Northwest Coast of America
reached the Spanish authorities; two such reports, actually inaccurate,
stated that the Russians now had establishments at Prince William
Sound and at Nootka, These various reports caused Spain to be
alarmed at what she folt was a growing and illegitimate "foreign"
intrusion on the western shores of America, which she still considered
her own. Reacting to this challenge, she began a second period of
activity on the coast to the north of California, which was to last
about eight years. 15
The first move was a voyage carried out in 1788 in two vessels
commanded by Martinez and Lopez de Haro, to"ascertain the true extent
of the Russian presence. They explored the stretch of coast between
Prince William Sound and Unalaska Island (Aleutian Archipelago), met
natives in different parts, and visited some Russian outposts. There
the voyagers gained the impression that the Russians had no establishment at Nootka, which was true, but were planning to set one up the
following spring, which appears to have been a false rumour.
Martinez and Lopez de Haro had been instructed to visit Nootka
during the voyage but did not do so: if they had, they would have
found there a fur-trading expedition, commanded by tho Englishman
John Meares; although the expedition's sponsors were all British, its
ships were placed under the Portuguese flag in order to avoid payment
of duties affecting British merchant vessels operating on the Pacific,
The expedition spent some months at Friendly Cove, at the entrance to
Nootka Sound, where it built a small wooden house on land which,
according to Meares and his companions, ho had bought from the natives.
Most of' the available statements concerning this matter aro vague and
conflicting, and were made bythese people at a time when, as a result
of events occurring at Nootka, they had vested interests in magnifying
the extent of their activities on the Northwest Coast; for these and
other reasons this information is very questionablo.
The United States of America made their first appearance on the
North Pacific with their ships Columbia Rediviva and Lady Washington,
which arrived at Nootka in the autumn of 1788. The Meares expedition
was still there but departed shortly afterward. There is much indirect
evidence that, before leaving they demolished the small wooden house
they had built at Friendly Cove (perhaps taking aboard some of the
lumber used). This action was probably motivated partly by the desire
to deny the use of this structure to the Americans, who planned to
spend - and did spend - the following winter there.
Conflicting plans: During this winter, 1788-89, conflicting plans
affecting the Northwest coast of America and Mootka Sound in particular, were formulated,
(a) At the ports of Macao and Canton. Meares and a representative
of a fur-trading company with headquarters in London, made arrangements for two ships which had participated in the recent Meares
expedition, plus tw° others, to operate on tho Northwest coast of
America in the purchase of furs, under the overall leadership of
Captain James Colnett, with instructions to set up a trading outpost somowhere on tho coast, preferably at Nootka.
(b) Tho Viceroy of New Spain, in view of tho notion that the
Russians were going to establish thomselves at Nootka, and of other
factors, decided that an expedition under the command of 1-Jartinez
should carry out a token occupation of the Sound, in order to convey
the impression that this would become a permanent Spanish settlement
with land and shipping communication with the Spanish possessions in
California. In the event of encountering mariners of other powers
operating on the Northwest coast without Spanish consent, Martinez
was to inform them that Spain was exclusive master of the area and
would not permit such activity. 16
A Spanish force at Nootka: In May 1789, the expedition under Martinez,
with two ships, arrived at Friendly Cove, Nootka. The house which
Meares had erected thero was no longer standing. The expedition set
. up a small fort on a tiny rocky island commanding the entrance to the
Cove. For some timo relations betwenn Spanish and the local natives
were quite friendly, but they deteriorated until on ono occasion a
native chieftain offended Martinez by calling him insulting names,
whereupon Martinez, and perhaps another Spaniard as well, rashly
fired at tho Indian, killing him. Justly infuriated, the natives
sovemed their contacts with the Spanish, though only for a short timo.
Although it had not been stipulated one way or the other,
Martinez came to assume that his expedition would be staying at Nootka
indefinitely but, late in July, he received an order from the Viceroy
requesting him to abandon tho place before winter came.
At different times during his stay Martinez encountered
seven "foreign" vessels, tho American Columbia and Washington, the
Iphigenia, tho Northwest America, the Princoss Royal and the Argonaut
of the Meares consortium, and subsequently tho Fair American of U.S.
The commanders of all of these vessels were English-speaking,
although the Iphigonia was in a different category. Through an interpreter of this language, Martinez communicated with these commanders,
had them produce their credentials, and informed them of Spain's stand
on "foreign" activities, along the Northwest coast. Tho confrontation
concerning the Columbia and the Washington was fairly straightforward;
Martinez did not harass them in any way and they left in their own
timo. With regard to the-four ships of the Meares consortium the
matter was much more complex, partly because of some irregular or odd
circumstances, too complex to detail here, concerning their credentials
and thoir personnel.
The Iphigenia, though British owned, displayed the Portuguese
flag she carried a set of -credentials in English, giving the true
facts of ownership; she also had a legitimate Portuguese passport and
sailing instructions in Portuguese, but containing deliberate false
information. Besides her real commander - a Briton - she carried a
Portuguese mariner who was named in the Portuguese papers as her
captain. This man showed these papers to Martinez who, objecting to
a clause in these papers, seized the vessel. However, a few days
later, declaring that he might have misunderstood, he set the vessel
free but made her would-be captain post a bond, whereby Spain might
still claim the ship.
In June tho Northwest America arrived at Friendly Cove,
obviously battered. Martinez, on the unfounded pretext that her
crew had abandoned her on the beach as unseaworthy, appropriated the
ship (though giving her commander a receipt for tho allegedly usable
materials and equipment) and arranged for the crew to be given
passage to the port of Macao - Canton - whence they had come, and
where Meares was then residing.
When the Princess Royal arrived at Nootka in June, Martinez 17
warned her captain against operating on the coast but on the other
hand gave him some help and let him go in peace.
Subsequently tho Argonaut came, commanded by Colnett, who revealed
that he meant to set up an outpost at Nootka, or else on tho neighbouring coast. Martinez told him he would not let this happen, and the two
mon engaged in a heated argument over their respective missions and the
rights' -of Spain and Britain to that part of America; the outcome was
that Martinez seized tho Argonaut.
Later the Princess Royal reappeared in the vicinity of Nootka;
her captain, assuming that Colnett was there, free, and probably intending to make contact with him through the Indians, surreptitiously made
for the coast in a boat, but tho Spanish caught him in the act, arrested
him and. subsequently seized the ship. Shortly afterward they sent her
and the Argonaut, along with one of their 'own ships, to San Bias,
Later, as the Spanish force was preparing to leave Nootka, the U,S.
schooner Fair American, engaged in the fur trade, arrived in the aroa.
Martinez seized her, although giving her crew much-needed assistance.
Then, on October 30th the Spanish force, with their one remaining ship
and the Fair American and the Northwest America voyaged to San Bias,
Ro-occupation of Nootka, 1790-1792: About six months later another
Spanish expedition :from San Bias came to Nootka and started to set up
an establishment which, at its maximum development, attained abcut two
years later, included a simple fort, a sizeable building for headquarters, several smaller structures for use as living quarters, bakery,
sick-bay, workshops', storage, two drinking water wells, vegetable gardens,
pens for livestock, etc. The personnel obtained fish, game and some
vegetables locally but, the land being unsuitable for any large scale
farming, most of their foodstuffs had to bo brought from Mexico or from
tho Spanish establishments in California, as were other essential supplies.
On tho whole, they had quite friendly contacts with the natives„
Anglo-Spanish controversy; Nootka Sound Convention, 1790 Meanwhile
there were developments arising from Martinez' seizuce of ships.
The schooner Fair American was set free at San Bias and no further
complications ensued.
Meares and his associates presented to tho British Government
reports on the seizuEO of their ships and 'tho background of the incident;
they made vague and largely unfounded statements implying that the
Spanish had appropriated lands and buildings acquired by Meares at Nootka
Sound, Clayoquot Sound and the vicinity of Fuca Strait. Accordingly they
requested that Spain bo required to make good these appropriations and
to pay indemnities for all actual or conjectural losses incurred by the
owners, Tho case was centred largely on Meares. Inasmuch as between
1786 and 1788 he had operated in the fur trade on the Northwest coast,
flouting British regulations, and had been at Nootka with an expedition
disguised as Portuguese, ho hardly deserved official British support
for his claims. However it suited the British Government to support them
fully in order to harass Spain and take the opportunity of making other
demands of much greater import, tho essence of which was recognition of
British rights to operate or to settle on any part of the Pacific coast
of America which was not under Spanish control prior to tho seizure of
British ships at Nootka. 18
The Spanish Government, after a token resistance, soon agreed to
return the ships and pay indemnities, but resisted the demands hinging
on sovereignty, by reiterating her right to absolute possession of the
whole of tho western pairt of America and claiming that Nootka had been
discovered by the Spanish four years boforo the Cook expedition visited
the place, Britain counterargued, claimed the discovery, pressed her
demands and eventually presented Spain with an ultimatum: acceptance
or war. It soon became .clear that, if war resulted, Britain could count
on effective support from her allies, but that Spain could not expect
any positive co-operation from her main ally, France which was then in
the throes of revolution. Thus, Spain finally accepted practically
all the British demands, which were embodied in a Convention signed
late in 1790, Its main points were:
(a) Spain would return the seized vessels and pay indemnities.
(b) Spain would restore to Great Britain what- was described as
"buildings and tracts of land" situated on the Northwest coast, of
which British citizens had been dispossessed by the Spanish.
(c) Both British and Spanish would have equal right to operate (voyage,
trado and fish) on any part of that coast to the north of tho
parts already occupied by Spain prior to the Nootka incident.
For various reasons, only one of tho seized vessels was returned
to the owners, but the value of tho others was included in the agenda
of compensations which were discussed by an Anglo-Spanish commission.
The British Government appointed as its representative Captain George
Vancouver who at the timo was scheduled to carry out explorations and
charting on tho Northwest coast of America. With regard to the restitution of "buildings and tracts of land" tho Government, taking for
conveniency all of Meares-' claims, took the position that the Spanish
representative should officially transfer to Vancouver the whole of
Nootka Sound and Clayoquot 3o\md. With regard to sovereignty, Great
Britain assumed that tho Convention definitely implied that the northern
boundary of the exclusive dominions of Spain on the Pacific coast of
America was -the Bay of San Francisco, as being the northernmost point
of the coast which x-ras under Spanish control or occupation prior to the
Nootka incident.
The Spanish Government appointed as its commissioner the officer
Bodega y Quadra who had participated in the voyages of 1775 and 1779«
The Government took tho view that the restitution should affect only
those tracts of land which could be proven to have been acquired by
Meares and that the two representatives, studying the matter on the
spot, should settle exactly what land was affected. The Spanish Government also considered that the two commissioners should decide, on the
spot, which should be the boundary between the part of the coast
exclusively bolonging to Spain and the part on which Britain should also
have the .right to operate. In this respect Bodega y Quadra was instructed to suggest that the boundary be Nootka Sound. However, if Vancouver
were to object too strenuously then the Spanish commissioner should
suggest (presenting it as a concession) that the boundary be at the
entrance of the Fuca Strait, but with tho understanding that the
Spanish would consider as exclusively theirs the American mainland to
the east of a meridian line running from the entrance to the Strait up
to latitude 60°. A map with such a line was drawn and given to the 19
Spanish commissioner, along with detailed instructions. In keeping
with this attitude the Spanish decided to set up, forthwith, an establishment or outpost at the entrance.of that strait, so that it would be a
reality by the time the two commissioners would meet.
1792 -- Activities and negotiations: 1792 was the most active year of
tho Spanish presence on the Northwest coast. In May, a Spanish ship,
with about a hundred men and suitable equipment and supplies, started
work on the scheduled outpost on the bay now called Noah Bay, at the
southern tip of the entrance to tho Fuca Strait (northwest extremity of
Washington State). The force erected a large hut, a baker's shop, and
set up other installations, including a vegetable garden. Tho intention
was to create a permanent establishment, but the venture was fated to be
ephemeral. During the spring and summer the Spanish had their largest
contingent over at Nootka, and carried out coastal explorations.
Captains Bodega y Quadra and Vancouver met at Nootka in August-
Septomber. The Spaniard initiated proceedings by producing information
from various sources - including American fur traders - with which ho
tried to prove t hat tho only land which could be considered, with some
justification, to have been acquired by Meares, was the small flat
clearing at Friendly Cove on which he had built a small house. This,
Bodega y Quadra concluded, was tho only land restitution due by virtue
of the Convention. Vancouver argued that he did not deem himself authorized to enter into "retrospective considerations" but only to receive,
on behalf of his country, the entirety of Nootka Sound and Clayoquot
Sound. Then Bodega y Quadra offered (a) to transfer to Great Britain
the aforementioned part of Friendly Cove, unconditionally and permanently and (b) to allow the use of the rest of the Cove, including all
the installations of the Spanish establishment, from which the Spaniards
would withdraw, but this on a provisional basis, pending a final
decision on the part of tho respective governments. Vancouver, who
laboured under the handicap of having received only the paltriest
instructions from his government, with no specific authorization for any
give' and take, felt duty-bound to refuse. Thus the matter was left
inconclusive, the two commissioners referring it back to their respective governments„
By that time it had become apparent to the Spanish that Neah Bay
was not a suitable site for a permanent establishment. In view of this
and of tho stalemate of the Vancouver-Bodega y Quadra negotiations,
which meant that for the time being Nootka would remain under exclusive
Spanish control, the incipient outpost at Neah Bay was dismantled. It
had lasted barely four months.
Exploratj ons, 1789-1793 During these, years the Spanish carried out
several voyages of exploration on the Northwest coastj three of the
voyage's covered the coast, from Nootka to Prince William Sound; four
covored the coast immediately to the south of Nootka, the Juan de Fuca
Strait and other waterways between Vancouver Island and the mainland;
two voyages covered the stretch between the Fuca Strait and Monterey.
Here are some details,
1789: Jose Maria Narvaez explored tho entrance of tho Fuca Strait in
the former Northwest America which had been repaired and renamed
by the Spanish. 20
1790: Salvador Fidalgo explored part of the Alaska coast as far as
Prince William Sound. Manuel Quimper, using the captured British
ship Princess Royal, explored the coast to the south of Nootka
and the Fuca Strait, as far as the sort of basin, dotted with
islands, where the Strait divides into several channels,
1791: Francisco Elisa and the aforementioned Narvaez explored again
the Fuca Strait and also the contiguous Georgia Strait, as far
north as latitude 50°, discovering in the process what is now the
present shoreline of the City of Vancouver. An expedition of two
• vessels under Alejandro Malaspina, which was carrying out a voyage
around the world, explored part of the coast between 57° and 60°,
mainly in order to investigate whether, as alleged in tho story
of Ferrer Maldonado, there was a waterway conneeting with the
Atlantic. Besides, the expedition explored and charted in detail
the whole of Nootka Sound and its environs.
1792: Jacinto Caamano reconnoitered the north and east coasts of tho
Queen Charlotte Islands. A frigate explored, though superficially, the coast between the Fuca Strait and Monterey. Two
schooners commanded by Alejandro Alcala Galiano and Dionisio
Valdez, setting out from Nootka, continued the exploration of
Fuca and Georgia Straits in the vicinity of what is now the
University of British Columbia. They encountered a British
expedition commanded by Captain George Vancouver, which was also
exploring the area; both oxpeditiohs completed their exploration
of the waterways between Vancouver Island and the mainland, and
made their way to Nootka.
1793: The last Spanish exploration of the coast was carried out by two
vessels between Fuca Strait and Montoray.
Some of these Spanish voyages, especially those covering the
coast around Vancouver Island, resulted in important discoveries, but
those ranging over parts of the coast previously explored by other
nations produced only a few local discoveries. From their own findings
and from information gathered from other sources, the Spanish plotted a
genoral map of the Northwest coast of America, but thoy did not explore
it any further-
Another Anglo-Spanish Convention: In the meantime the course of the
French Revolution caused Spain and Great Britain to turn from foes into
allies, and to form an alliance against France. In this new climate of
friendship the two nations settled the matters pending from the Nootka
Convention of 1790. Spain paid to Meares and his associates, by way of
indemnity for their losses resulting from the Nootka incident, 210,000
hard Spanish dollars. While this sum was a good deal less t. han these
people had demanded, it was surely greatly in excess of their actual losses.
Concorning the points of the Convention on which Vancouver and
Bodega y Quadra had reached a stalemate, tho two governments concerted
a complementary Convention, signed in 1794, which stipulated:
(a) Spain would abandon the establishment at Nootka.
(b) Representatives from the two nations would meet there, and would 21
declare officially rostored to Great Britain tho "lands and buildings"
roferred to in the first Convention, but nover specified.
.(c) Both nations would have the right to use Nootka and eroct there
temporary structures but not permanent establishments.
(d) Both nations would deny to all others the use of Nootka.
The new Convention made no reference to any land or buildings outside of Nootka, and this definitely implied that the vaguo claims of
Meares in this- respect wore now completely ignored. Nor did the document mention at all the matter of the northern boundary of the Spanish
dominions on the Northwest coast, which had worried the Spanish and
had been a major topic of dispute between Bodega y Quadra and Vancouver; undoubtedly this matter was deliberately overlooked, in order
to avoid friction between the two countries which circumstances had
caused to become allies ~  for a while. Altogether tho second Convention T\ras about as vague as the first in many points, and might well
have been a cause for dispute but for the fact that Spain, within a few
yoars, began to lose her hold in North America.
Last years of tho Spanish presence: After 1792 the Nootka establishment underwent some alterations but hardly any further expansion. Contacts between Spanish and natives were frequent and apparently friendly.
During the summer months Nootka was visited by a number of vessels of
British, United States of America, Portuguese and French registry.
The Spanish officially and openly admitted British vessels, and ships of
other nationalities were.officially forbidden to approach the coast,
but in fact none was barred access or expelled.
.Agreeable to the stipulations of the 1794 Convention, a British
and a Spanish commissioner met at Friendly Covo in March 1795* The
Sp anish'establishment was dismantled; with a simple ceremony the
British flag was symbolically hoisted, and the two men signed documents declaring that the buildings and tracts of land mentioned in the
two Conventions had boon rostored to Great Britain. Within weeks the
Spanish occupation force withdrew, and thus ended the northernmost
outpost tho Spanish over had anywhere.
A last voyage, 1796:. The Viceroy of New Spain decided that every six
months a journey to Nootka should be undertaken as a token of Spanish
rights there, but only one voyage materialized. This occurred in 1796
with a ship commanded by Jose Maria Tovar. During its brief stay at
Nootka there arrived by    chance a U.S. fur-trading schooner which
carried as a"guest-passenger* Thomas Muir, a notable Scottish radical
who, because of his political activities, had been deported to Australia,
and who had escaped from that country on that vessel. He requested
Tovar to give him passage to Mexico,and the Spaniard obliged, but in so
doing ho contravened old regulations restricting tho presence of
foreigners in Spanish-American dominions, and he was subsequently
reprimanded for his generous action. This voyage constitutes the
last episode of the presence of the Spanish Empire on the coast fo
tho north of California.
Spain renounces claims on the coast: Vessels from Russia, Great
Britain and tho United States continued to visit the Northwest coast,
mainly to exploit its fur resources. Tho Russians in their progress
had previously operated only on the northern stretches of tho coast; 22
about 1799, however, they started a major establishment at .Sitka (Latitude 57°) and in 1818 a smaller one much farther south, near San Francisco. At the same time, dynamic European immigrants wore pressing
westward and numbers of United States citizens flocked into the territories of Florida, Texas, New Mexico and California which Spain had
partially colonized and which were still, officially, under her dominion.
However, from about 1808, as the remainder of the Spanish colonies in
the Americas were struggling for their emancipation, the Spanish grip
upon the northern regions of the continent, loosened more and more. In
1819, when that emancipation process was practically complete, Spain
ceded to the United States all her territories to the east of the Mississippi River, and, besides, all Spanish rights and claims to the Northwest coast and its hinterland to the north of latitude 42°. This
action constituted the official and final withdrawal of Spain from the
Northwest,coast of America.
Miscellany: Spain's presence on tho Northwest coast was accomplished
exclusively by the endeavours of her Royal Navy. The personnel were all
masculine. Most of the officers, technicians and clergymen involved
.were natives of Spain, but the remainder were mostly Mexican and
largely of Mexican-Indian stock. It is very likely - though not
recorded in documents - that from the contacts of these personnel with
native women at Nootka,. some children were born. On tho other hand,
some.children and a few older people from the Northwest coast were taken
by the Spanish to California or Mexico, where they undoubtedly spent
tho rest of their lives.
Throughout the years several suggestions wore made for a major
Spanish enterprise in the fur trade to be developed, for which she had
better facilities than the Russians, Britons or Americans. However,
nothing came of it.
Many place names on the Northwest coast arc reminiscent of the
Spanish presence; a number come directly from tho toponyms assigned by
the Spanish, and others drawn from this source have changed sites. A
good many names have been designated in. recent times by Canada and the
United States on the. basis of what was known about the history of the
Spanish presence on the coast. A few of the names have suffered
curious spelling alterations.
Mr Bartroli of the Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies of the
University of British Columbia needs little introduction to the members
of the British Columbia Historical Association. Ho is an authority
on the Spanish voyages to our coast and has spoken to many of our
member societies on this subject.


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