George Vancouver


George Vancouver, the man probably best known for his naming rights to the island in British Columbia, was attempting to sail around the world, until he ran into California in April 1792. Vancouver was heading east from the Sandwich Islands, now known as Hawaii, when he first encountered the state, just south of Cape Mendocino.

He veered northward traveling along the coasts, passing Del Norte County, Oregon and Washington.

While on this journey, Vancouver sent one of his lieutenants, William Robert Broughton, to explore the Columbia River. Broughton then discovered and named Oregon’s Mt. Hood.

As Vancouver traveled further along the coast he found Puget Sound, spending nearly a month traversing the channels and islands, and continued on to Vancouver Island. In 1794, after sailing along the Pacific Coast, Vancouver decided to return to England.

This trip, around Cape Horn, concluded his circumnavigation of the world and his career. He retired to Petersham, a town outside of London, to prepare a journal of his travels for publication.

The manuscript, which was a half a million words long, was near completion when Vancouver died, May 12, 1798 at 40 years-old. He is credited with naming Vancouver Island, Vancouver, British Columbia and Vancouver, Wash.

The British schooner Columbia anchored in Trinidad Bay in 1817, passing Del Norte County’s waters during its voyage. Not long after the anchors dropped, the vessel was surrounded by canoes.

As a precautionary move, boarding nets were pulled up, all ports but one closed and the canoes were swept to the port. Trading followed and the Britons obtained a few furs in exchange of pieces of six-inch iron hoop.

The Native Americans also brought aboard red deer and berries. In the afternoon several Native American women appeared, and despite offers of blankets and axes, did not come aboard the Columbia.

It was clear to the British that the Natives had little experience with Europeans, “as they did not know the use of firearms; nor have they any iron among them.”

Ashore the British found the cross Bodega erected 37 years before. After purchasing all the pelts the Native Americans had for sale, the British weighed anchor on July 24.

The vessel experienced much difficulty beating her way out to sea.

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