Monday, February 6, 2012

Our First Tourist

This is Campbell Court at 2505 Fraser Street. It is at the corner of East Broadway and Fraser Streets and the courtyard you see is sandwiched between two other buildings. In 1922 this was listed as Ash Hall.

This is now apartments and although the outside doesn't look like much I have read that the interior units are quite nice.

I am consulting The Chuck Davis History of Metropolitan Vancouver again for the information in today's blog entry.

It is an indisputable fact that the first European to set eyes on what we now call Vancouver was Jose Maria Narvaez in 1791, a Spanish marine captain who was born in 1768.

Narvaez was commander of a small navy schooner called the Santa Saturnina which was the size of a modern 12-metre yacht although it was considerably broader in beam.

The Santa Saturnina was small enough that it could be propelled by eight oarsmen but it carried a crew of 22 and among those were soldiers from Don Pedro Alberni's garrison of Catalonian volunteers that were stationed at Nootka.
Narvaez may have been just out of his teens but he was travelling under secret orders from the Spanish viceroy in Mexico. The Santa Saturnina was part of an expedition that was led by Lt. Francisco de Eliza. They were sent to gather intelligence and map the unknown waters that were beyond the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The area up to Haro Strait had been explored by Manuel Quimper in 1790 and Spain had laid claim to it but the English believed that their claims from expeditions by Sir Francis Drake in 1579 and James Cooke in 1778 were valid. And the Russians who had established forts in Alaska as well as the French  who had explored the Northwest coast in 1786 also thought they had rights to claim the land.

On May 5, 1791 the Santa Saturnina  left Nootka in the company of Eliza's 16-gun ship San Carlos. It was in July that Narvaez became the first known European to sail into the Strait of Georgia. He took note of the fresh water and deduced that there was a presence of a large river. He never did find the Fraser River, which had accurately identified, but he did see the site of present day Vancouver. The Santa Saturnina anchored off of Point Grey. Narvaez thought the point was an island. On the oldest known map of this area to survive it is charted as Ysla de Langara.

It is estimated that the Spanish crews rowed and sailed more than 6,200 miles or 10,000 kilometres. They explored the Strait of Georgia (named by the Spanish as Canal de Floridablanca), Howe Sound (Bocas del Carmelo) Burrard Inlet (Boca de Floridablanca), Point Atkinson (Punta de la Bodega) and Point Roberts (Ysla de Zepeda). Narvaez traded with the Musqueam and also made contact with the Squamish at the head of Howe Sound.

Narvaez was also responsible for charting Nanaimo harbour on the east coast of Vancouver Island and continued north to Comox and Cape Lazo. He then explored Desolation Sound on the mainland, named Texada and Lasqueti Islands,  mapped the Canadian Gulf Islands and the San Juan Islands before returning to his base at Nootka.
So why aren't Vancouverites speaking Spanish? And why is our city named Vancouver? Well in 1792 George Vancouver, an English naval captain, renamed most of the landmarks. The Spanish withdrew since their empire was declining and the British were growing iin power. As we all know the victors write history so Narvaez became a footnote and the city that erupted on what were once the shores of Boca de Floridablanca was named after the English explorer.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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