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.
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.
Karen Magill, Vancouver, Sir Francis Drake, Musqueam, Point Grey, Nootka, British Columbia