Monday, June 13, 2016

Fabled Northwest Passage

Back in April, I spent four days at a hotel on the beautiful Quadra Island. This is the start of a series on the history of that gorgeous place. I hope you enjoy it.

Captain George Vancouver sailed through the Discovery Passage in 1792 and he probably didn't think much of the small, seemingly inhabitable island. Mountains soared on two skylines and trees stretched down to the water's edge. 

"An awful silence pervaded the gloomy forests," Vancouver wrote "whilst animated nature seemed to have deserted the neighbouring country."

These photos are of Quadra Island 

Vancouver and his men had a mission. They were to explore the coast of the Pacific Northwest in search of the fabled Northwest Passage, which would provide an easier route to travel to Asia for the silk and spice trade. What we now call Vancouver Island was of particular interest because it was uncharted territory and maybe, just maybe they would find this passage.

Captain Vancouver also had another task. He was to negotiate a resolution to a dispute with the Spanish over the possession of the northwest coast. 

Cayetano Valdes y Flores and Dionisio Alcala Galiano were sent by Spain on a similar mission in 1792 and the Spaniards met up with British near what is now Vancouver. The parties agreed to work together and traveled together to Desolation Sound. There they realized that the land mass to the west of Quadra Island was a large island so they split up. Vancouver headed towards the larger channels along the shores of Vancouver Island.

The 100-foot, thirty-meter Discovery, captained by George Vancouver, set sail on a clear July day. She crossed the top end of the Strait of Georgia and entered Discovery Passage. The consort ship, the Chatham, followed a short time later.

Numberless whales enjoying the season were playing about the ship in every direction, as were also several seals. The scene now before us was more congenial to our minds, not only from the different aspect of the shores, but from the attention of the friendly Indians, who, as we were crossing the gulf, visited us in several canoes, with young birds, mostly sea fowl, fish and some berries, to barter for our trinkets and other commodities. 

Thanks to the book, The Quadra Story, A History of Quadra Island by Jeanette Taylor for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Karen Magill