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Geography, Placenames and Exploration in the Pacific Northwest

Geoffrey Castle

This tape is part of the SSI Historical Society Collection, and comprises an address given to the Society meeting.

Mr. Castle gives a brief history of the exploration of the Pacific Northwest from 400 BC to the late nineteenth century, with origins of many of the placenames included.

Accession Number 989.031.032 Interviewer Geoffrey Castle
Date September 13, 1988 Location Central Hall
Media cassette tape mp3 Duration 42 minutes
ID 29 Detailed Tape Guide no
Topic Geography, Placenames and Exploration in the Pacific Northwest




Unknown Speaker 0:00
forevermore for you, having asked me to come, because it was an opportunity to find good weather. And to come to a very beautiful spot, I would like what I'm going to talk about this afternoon is not so much what happened in your backyard sumptious wants to sell. So in such a nice name that I want to take the overall picture, in the whole scheme of things is going back a little bit. And we'll see why I'm going to go back. Because it has it's very meaningful for the press. I think these pictures, there are only 20 album. And each one is worthy of some discussion. So as mentioned, only 20. So you know, you're not going to be stuck in here all afternoon on this lovely sunny day. They do cover what I want to say. And I'm going to show you these slides and say a little bit about how the islands and the geographic features in the Gulf Islands came about the naming. So just bear with me for a moment. Because I'm stick the project somewhere where we can.

Unknown Speaker 1:26
Better now let's focus. Very good. Well, I could hear pushing back. Yeah. I don't have any vertical ones. actually surprised me no problem. Okay, let's begin. This might strike you as having very little has nothing to do whatsoever with the Gulf Islands. But when you come to think about it, we would never have discovered the Gulf Islands if it hadn't been for this sort of thing. And what it is, it does say at the top left, that was three factors that underestimated our unsung hero, Columbus, its route of WWE. Shan, who was a Buddhist missionary, who went round the Pacific Rim from China, as far as Mexico, around 453 ad. And in doing so, it's highly likely that he discovered Vancouver Island, and maybe some of the Gulf Islands, less likely, but it's possible. So the thing is, it shows that people were traveling to Oahu area we know now here I will say backyard. I've used that word once before. And it's going to repeat itself. As you'll see, history is repeating itself. Now the reason they knew he went to Mexico was because artifacts have been found there that were similar in China. And also a diary was kept, which was discovered in the 18th century, carefully preserved in caves were translated.

Unknown Speaker 3:33
So while we have, by the time the Europeans started to spread westward across North America, is mathy. Showing some strange names. This is in French, I'll admit to start with, but it's a good example. If you look at the top, just to the left of center, it says fu sang de Shinhwa which means land of the fuseini or Chinese geographies, because those are the words that are appeared on later maps too. So what is now British Columbia was originally called and I don't know how original original is, but we're going back to 453 which is a pretty good way back means that there is an oriental influence in what is now British Columbia. You'll notice that this early map shows California and Mexico and it doesn't show Vancouver Island. I'm sorry, that's the wrong way. Smell it

Unknown Speaker 4:58
Okay, progressing a little bit in time, we see a little blob down the left the center, which might be Vancouver Island. And all of British Columbia and Alberta is called the West Sea. Well, the only way you could conceive of that being sea would be from a geological point going back 12,000 years or more when it was an inland sea, but that's stretching it a bit. You'll notice it says these parts are entirely unknown at the top, right. And that's the way Europeans saw the Pacific Northwest, around 1700, the late 17th century, early 18th century. You can see the difference between Europe and the Americas, South America was fairly well known the left there, but North America was hardly known as the 16th 17th century. This map, least a copy of it, is in the provincial archives in Victoria. And here, we have another map a little bit later, showing what could be the Bering Sea. Actually, just to the left of there is a big island that says Jesolo land, and that was supposed to be Japan. Now, the Strait of Aenean is a name which has been given to anything between the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Bering Strait. And that appears on maps too. So as we approach Well, this is this map here is a map of California shows it as an island. And it was shown on maps as an island from 1622 to 1785, which is a long time. And the reason it might have been thought to be an island was Silas had no means of determining longitude. They couldn't tell how far west or east they were, because they lacked accurate time. And the only way you can get longitude is through a chronometer, which is a deadly accurate clock. And that didn't come until Captain Cook's time in 1788. When he came out here on his third and last voyage, world voyage, you can see strait of anion, just under parts unknown, but the distance is very short on the map between, say what's the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the north part of California. It's possible sailors went up one river from the Gulf of California and east from the coast up another river and just figured that they'd been all the way round an island. Well, when cook came here, came in two shifts, the resolution and the discovery. And we have to forgive him for not discovering the Strait of Juan de Fuca, or rediscovering it because it was many years earlier in 1592. When Juan de Fuca when I wasn't his real name, he was a Greek actually working for the Spanish when he discovered the strait. And it remained rather dormant for 200 years because there were no white people or Europeans up here to further explore. So it was very foggy when Cook was up here. And by the way, Francis Drake was up there too in the 1580s. But he is supposed to when they come as far north as the 44th parallel, so it didn't quite make straight Juan de Fuca here had run into bad conditions and went south again. And cook proceeded up the coast and found Nucor, which he named, he thought it was an Indian name, but it didn't turn out that way. So it is an Indian sounding name, which cook selected. And on these one of these two ships was a young Midshipman called Vancouver, George Vancouver, who would come here again later in Sunday 92 to Noca and meet up with Spanish quadra, who was the commandant or governor nuclear then. So you know, nuclear was run by the Spanish for a while. And he and Quadra went all the way around Vancouver Island and discovered many of the Gulf Islands. This is showing Captain Cook's track it no trouble finding the Sandwich Islands or Hawaii because he carried charts Portuguese navigators from the 1500s that showed the land for, for the Sandwich Islands, which he recognized. You see, doesn't show Vancouver Island. And then we had other explorers at the same time, one of whom was the Frenchman called lap Peru, who was in 1789, just after a few years after Cook, actually. And all these explorers had one thing in mind was to look for the Pacific Northwest or the Northwest Passage, so the Europeans could get to the Orient. You notice the Orient crops up again. I think there's some significance in this. This is the cartouche or the title page for the atlas of lat Peru. And it shows the great deal of effort the cartographer when to ask was common in those days to engrave beautiful piece of work, showing angels and symbolism of exploring. Now, moving ahead a little bit further. We have the very first semblance of Vancouver Island. And this is around 1789. I think it's the 7093 on there, when Captain Khalid, who was a private trader, with for trading with the Indians and selling the first in the Orient, had knowledge of going around the island, even before Vancouver confirmed this, that it was an island still says see of the west there, over to the right, still says who sang land, the Chinese navigators from about the earth for whatever it says there. It's all established. Straight one that only goes up a little way, as you can see. And the Queen Charlotte Islands have already been discovered. But it wasn't until after establishing a fort Victoria in 1849. And the beaver that came up here in 1837, which was based in Fort Vancouver on the Columbia did some work on the coast here after Vancouver had been around 7092 and consolidated his findings, so that by 1849, we find that the whole of Vancouver Island and most of the Gulf Islands have been mapped out. First settler, actually genuine settler, in this part was WC grant. Actually, it's silk that that was an abortive affair because he pulled up stakes within less than six years and went back into the army to fight in the Crimea. He was a surveyor, but he didn't do much in that respect, because he was a bit of a scatterbrain he'd left his instruments and he lost them on one occasion, but at least he left his mark

Unknown Speaker 13:15
okay, we've looked at the beaver. And we're moving round into the Gulf Islands area. And you can see that Cordova bay there is called common Bay. And we reason that happened was the Spaniards who had captured a British ship called the Princess Royal, which they renamed the princess array owl. They took it from Nuka where they captured it and tried one last exploratory voyage to find the Northwest Passage. So they ended up round the harrow straight and round Cordova Bay. And they had called what is now Esquimalt harbour por esto de Cordova, Cordova bay or port port Cordova and the British A little while later called what is now Cordova Bay common bay after the ship cormorant wasn't the first cormorant, by the way, not the corpsman that came into the drydock here in 1885. It was another corpsman a little earlier. I think there were 11 or 12 comrades in the British Navy over the years as there were many other names ships too. So the 95 it was changed back to Cordova Bay permanently but common points still remains there. So we're almost into the Gulf Islands.

Unknown Speaker 14:46
Thetis Island also is good name given to Thetis lake in Victoria. But unlike row stream there, some of the names of the personnel are offices on the Thetis didn't seem to spill over into the island here the Gulf island, but row stream there as named after the paymaster on the HMS Thetis and those other names to the right, and just outside Victoria coals in skip, were all offices on board the ship.

Unknown Speaker 15:25
The Navy Yard in Victoria in 1873, shows the first three huts. They were erected as a result of the Crimean War. For hospital purposes, they're to the left of center, the three huts that wonder we survived until 1938. Now, this is the Ganges it might be familiar to you. I'm going to leave it on for a few moments. While I mentioned about the naming of the islands in the Gulf here. The British had well established themselves is Spanish were out. And in the 1850s 40s and 50s. Much survey work was done here, starting at the top or the north end of the Gulf Islands in the lower part with Gabriola. This is an adaption of the Spanish name Gaviola, meaning seagull. The center of the island was given to the name punter, the Gaviola or Cape Seagull was named in 1791 by Maria, nervous, and he had a small schooner called the Saturn Nina. And in the same area mage Island, just south of Cabriolet island, but smaller. This was named after Lieutenant William Tertius Fitzwilliam much. The name Fitzwilliam is quite significant. Fitzwilliam was probably one of the families. The mage is married into, who were in the COVID business in Yorkshire. And we're in the coal business here to round Nanaimo, same as Dunsmuir. Much came from a naval family, but was drowned in New Zealand when he shipped the HMS Orpheus was wrecked there in 1863. pyre these channels named for mage ship, and the decoursey group of islands was named after the captain of that ship. volve his island was named after que tanto Valdas in 1792. He was in the Mexico Anna, and these are all quite small ships. He was under the oddest of Valdas. In the larger ship. sootel Galliano Island was named after Dion SEO akala Galliano as the Spanish Navy, commanding the suit, we'll see what 1792 And he was sent from Mexico to complete the exploration of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Thetis island I just mentioned was north end of Galleon Island, named after the Thetis, a frigate with 36 guns, and was on the east coast from 1851 to 53. The captain was Augustus owl Cooper, Cooper Island, just north Georgia just south of Thetis Island, was the name given captain or Gustus Leopold Cooper, of HMS Thetis, whose crew name the other features just mentioned. Secretary islands which is a little group just north here of Salt Spring but west of Galiana. Another name here by Captain Richards, who was the surveying captain, on account of their vicinity to south the point, which of course is on the northern tip of Salt Spring Island. Mr. Saudi was secretary to Sir Robert L. Bane, and we have another name on the island, don't we beans. While this island was named for Captain Wallace Houston, of HMS Trincomalee, originally called narrow island drink Amali channels named after the sailing frigate, we just mentioned 24 guns that was on the station from 1853 to 1856. Interesting the ship was built in Bombay, and modelled on the French ship called the later like so many other ships, modeled on others. And this name was given by Captain Ray Richards when he was in the survey vessel HMS plumper this dimension mention a few other names here of the islands around Salt Spring. We've got Provo island in Swanson channels named after John Swanson. He was the Master the Hudson's Bay Brigantine Canberra for a while Capra's khabar Bay was named after Capra. Capra came up here in 1827. Where for Langley was established and came to cordeaux A cabra Bay rather, in 1843 or 42, the year before fort Victoria was established. As it happens, the prevail islands named after James Charles primo of HMS satellite, and he married Rear Admiral Fairfax most of his daughter got most of the island is to the south. We've got Fairfax point, I think just near here. He married Allen, who was the daughter and later primo was appointed the commissioner to the settlement of the San Juan boundary dispute, which has been a band in a band since 1846. So Turner Island was named after the Spanish schooner, Saturn Anina and commanded by novice and it was there that Indians murdered two white people camping on turn it in 1862, and the lighthouse was established on the point a little later, in 1888. Active paths between the main islands and Galliano got on an island was named after the American surveying vessel active, which are two guns. In 1855, it became the first vessel to navigate that passage. It was a wooden paddle steamer, originally called the gold hunter and satellite channel was named for HMS satellite here in 1857 to 60 and the captain of it at the time was JC primo satellite was useful during the 1858 gold rush, particularly as a guard vessel at the mouth of the Fraser River, checking that the miners had their licenses before they were traveling up the Fraser River to the gold fields. Now coming back to Ganges here, Ganges harbour is named after the flagship by that name. She was the ship for the Rear Admiral Robert Albanes. And the Ganges was also built in Bombay, in 1921. was based on the captured friendship, the Franklin, which was actually captured on the Nile in 1798, which was the year before the French actually made their last invasion aborted invasion of Britain. What happened, they were more like privateers, sailing without the sanction or the official sanction with the French of the French government, but with no doubt with their blessing. They got blown off course in the English Channel and landed up near fists fish garden in Wales, the two or 300 men that went on this invasion, and found out that over the brow of the hill, there were some persons or people dressed in red tunics and black hats, and they decided the British Army had been alerted. So they gave themselves up to the local police, and that invasion was supported. But the twist there is that the people in the uniforms were not soldiers. They were a number of Welsh ladies in a national costume out on an afternoon expedition of their own sought. In July 1860, the Caribbean Indians massacre abandoned Bella Bella Indians right here in Ganges Harbor. And a few days later, another incident took place concerning the fort Rupert Indians. What happened was the fort Rupert's who came up in a long canoe and saw a group of Bella ballasts and the nearby and there was some white offer che this and the Bella Bella Indians are quite friendly with the white people and jumped in the white boat. But the big four Rupert Indian canoe bore down on the whites vote and snatched up the Bella Bella Indians, dismembered them, threw them in the sea, and left the White people entirely alone. This is only one or two incidents actually took place at that time, and many others have occurred within the Gulf Islands. In fact, as you know, the there are many Indians living here in the past. And there's wonderful mittens between North and South Pender Island, which UBC anthropologists have been working on the last couple of years, and the tribes used to move over from the island As to Victoria, in fact, they would. They had the songhees settlement and would canoe right through James Bay right through where the Emperor stands right up through Fairfield, where there was a navigable screen stream, I say, navigable deep enough for canoes, right through Ross Bay cemetery, or what is now cemetery and across the Gulf Islands.

Unknown Speaker 25:23
It was in that year, we were talking about 1862. But smallpox broke out among the Indians on the coast here, and the Bala coolers were reduced in numbers from 800 to 15 people. The first houses were erected on Saltspring island in the summer of 1859. Right here on the shore of Ganges harbor. Word about Fulford harbour after Captain John Fulford of HF, s Ganges, had retired as admiral in 1877. He retired in England unlike some people, just let me mention the Ganges was an ad for Ghana. And it was survived I think until quite a bit in the 20th century. This picture I believe, was taken in 1910. Maybe there's somebody here who recognizes a picture and can say where it was taken. Turning to another island near here, main island was named after Richard Charles main. He surveyed the Strait of Magellan, which of course was the route that many ships had to come around the horn before the Panama Canal was built in 19 are completed in 1914. I just mentioned about settlers from the British Navy. One very important one in the Gulf Islands was Eustace Downham mod mod island named after him, mods that was a early settler. He was later commander in his career of the royal yacht, the Victoria and Albert, which survived until about 1940. When it was decommissioned, at darkness. He started making sorry mod. He started the point to comfort Hotel on main island. And the one time he was the only British middle class. He was the only such family on main island. When he was quite elderly, he set out to sail for the United Kingdom in his little sloop, the half moon in 1925, when he was 77 years old. North and South Pender islands named after Daniel panda master the survey vessel HMS plumper and Panda was from the West of England family originally. Now Vesuvius bay here on the island was named after the paddle sloop by that name of Vesuvius, a six Gunner 976 tons. Most of the vessels were only about that tonnage, built at sheerness in 1840, and was used in the Black Sea during the Russian war. And captain was Gerrard Osborne, and there are two places, as you know, here, named after him. It was Aspen that was called to do some exploration work looking for Sir John Franklin, who had been looking for the Northwest Passage, but got lost in the 1840s. So Franklin was sent out to see if he could find anything of Sir John Franklin, and Lady Franklin, who was very helpful. She spent much of the family wealth on expeditions two or more, to try and find what had happened to her husband. It was discovered later, by mccluer R M. McLuhan and apostrophe mccluer, another explorer, the fate was discovered. And it turns out that without knowing it, that Franklin had discovered the Northwest Passage, but it happened to got frozen in the time. And mccluer confirmed this quite early on, although it wasn't until in the 20th century, the early years that anybody ever traveled the Northwest Passage, which was the reason why people, at least the Europeans that explored so diligently in this particular area. Just mentioning a few interesting points here, a beaver pie and record pockets are usually used to be quite a large shale plant there. And of course there was a school and a dairy farm. And the beaver point is named after the SSP Beaver and Rainbow Road. It's named after HMS HMCS rainbow, which was the first ship that the right the Royal Canadian Navy took on in 1910. First of two ships, the other one was on the East Coast. And the Cormoran dimensioned happened to be the first steam that naval vessel in these waters. We know that beaver was the first steamship. And another interesting fellow in the area that helped with the surveying was Captain Henry B. Ella. Now I know he didn't retire on the Gulf Islands. But he did in Victoria and built a very lovely Gothic design house which is on Fort St Hill in Victoria. You can see it to this day. It's fine faith grants Museum and he was the pilot for capturing Richards who had the survey vessel Hekate.

Unknown Speaker 31:52
Paddle sloop

Unknown Speaker 32:01
this Captain Ellis house just about how it is today

Unknown Speaker 32:11
the Maritime Museum in Victoria is a wonderful source of information for these early marine types who came here to explore and to name the places I've kept in DOD, by the way, lived in this house when he retired. I know it's not the Gulf Islands, but he was the master for many years of the steamship beaver. And it's now a museum. It's owned by Spanish municipality. And I was in there Sunday. Yesterday, that's sorry day before yesterday, when it was open to the public, and very nice, got 12 foot ceilings, the walls a panel with bread wood, just came from California, and in those days in the 1850s. So this was 1859 when it was built. The idea would be to take spars from soup from the Muir farm Amuro mill to California and bring back the redwood because it was finished wood, which couldn't be planed here in Victoria, because we didn't have the facilities at that time. Now, I just want to say a word or two, about a couple of things on the island here. The hospital came in 1914 I discovered and the most of the early settlers, the northeast end of the island, were in 1860. And they had certainly by far the majority Indian wives. Japanese came along later, and quite a few of them here. I was looking in the churchyard here before I came into your meeting. And I see I'm sure a few Japanese have buried in the corner there who work hard as a colony of negros to. I personally knew one of the person peoples he was worked at the provincial provincial government many years ago when I did. And she had many stories to tell about the family here on Salt Spring Island. There was a lock up erected in 1886 at Vesuvius Bay, North End Road, and that was the one of two in the Gulf Islands. And of course, the ferries have played a great part in the growth of the islands. And these costs included the Princess Mary, which became the restaurant vessel in Victoria. I know I've only hit on a few highlights here. But I wanted just to give some idea of how the names actually arose. And how the people that gave the names came to be here. And we had to go way back to the fifth century and the significance of going back. I said I promised I will tell you later, is that we are now so oriented as we were earlier with the silk trade when the CPL has reason why the CPR was built in the 1885 area, a times going to have a terminus in Port Alberni. So that could link up with the Emperor ships from Yokohama with the lucrative silk trade of times and fashions change. But we are still in the Pacific Rim. And we have recently appointed Mr. Lamb as Dr. Lamb his honoree doctors and the Select tenant, governor of our province, which I think is very significant. And this parallels to I think we shed in the way we started out this afternoon. This is about as far as I'm going to go. I think it's taken all the time that we did take, and we are having a few minutes now to ask the I call it try and stump the speaker asked a few questions. I'll be very pleased to answer. And if I can't, I'll be pleased to try and find out for you. May I have the live space?

Unknown Speaker 36:26
When I was growing up here now

Unknown Speaker 36:27
there was a beach called castles Beach, which is between Rainbow Beach and grand reopening. And it was I think a major Castle is that

Unknown Speaker 36:38
I have no relation to their child, the only one I would claim any connection with is Alfred, why do you think this goes back to everything?

Unknown Speaker 36:48
No, I was asked. And also, by the way, if anybody can add anything at this point? I think it would be great. As long as

Unknown Speaker 37:01
the vivre went around the point, which is why it was named after

Unknown Speaker 37:07
yesterday, just I don't think at that time they were landing particularly this is going back as early as 1843 or 42 degrees because

Unknown Speaker 37:24
it was basically appropriate you didn't mention that. We might wonder about vertigo and they

Unknown Speaker 37:37
got scared me. Oh, the scan

Unknown Speaker 37:39
this sounds familiar.

Unknown Speaker 37:59
Read about the use of almost one on one with registration. Which one? It's not just about Bilbo. This is the learning experience up all the time. I don't profess to be expert I'm already getting in your bag. Which relations were you discovered in the outside world?

Unknown Speaker 38:32
Well, I don't know if anybody knows about my way. Now obviously, we need somebody are starting to get a committee together to write

Unknown Speaker 38:50
in place banks are bearing because there are so many coming up discovered kitchen row recently. So they probably know the origin kitchen family here called Kitchen. They're still here. Most of the roads here like that. That's when I when I started out I said I wasn't going to touch I don't know how I felt that.

Unknown Speaker 39:21
I feel that HMS Ganges had five books in that photograph. And then it's got to be done. And it goes to the originals. It goes to the Hudson protecting his gig is done in a suit in a

Unknown Speaker 39:32
car. Not that I know but I can tell you directly related to the story about again.

Unknown Speaker 39:40
Not too long ago someone contacted the archives and said he had gotten banned. So Kenji, would you be interested? So they want to know well that the CFPs try not to see it. And they were very excited about the prospect of getting the hatband again to settle When we got to decide who said Ganges to, which was quite a letdown because they were about 11, the Ganges wills. And what I'm saying is what would change his manifesto. That's the same changes in the same base. They will always read bringing changing the governor just adding things to take away things lengthen or shorten and still do that it's very hard to keep track. It really needs somebody to research to do or help work on site watch if I'm sure again, that was the point you were asked is something that I think's worth checking into

Unknown Speaker 40:47
that picture on the table there that I showed during the meeting. Again, geez, I believe it's almost the same picture but certainly the same background so it's the south coast of England where farmers you can see the rolling hill with the hedges probably know that one is quite a good picture

Unknown Speaker 41:24

Unknown Speaker 41:30
You've got a wonderful place to dress. Every time you go by the fairing especially the sunset. I love the nicest place in the world.

Unknown Speaker 41:41
That everyone could get the air get