George Vancouver

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George Vancouver : biography

22 June 1757 – 10 May 1798

George Vancouver named the south point of what is now Couverden Island, Alaska as Point Couverden during his exploration of the North American Pacific coast, supposedly in honour of what is presumed to be his family’s hometown of Coevorden. It is located at the western point of entry to Lynn Canal in southeastern Alaska.

==Works by George Vancouver==

  • Voyage Of Discovery To The North Pacific Ocean, And Round The World In The Years 1791–95, by George Vancouver ISBN 0-7812-5100-1. Original written by Vancouver and completed by his brother John and published in 1798., , , alternative link
    • Edited in 1984 by W. Kaye Lamb and renamed The Voyage of George Vancouver 1791–1795; published by the Hakluyt Society of London, England.

Vancouver’s explorations

The Vancouver Expedition

Departing England with two ships in April 1791, Vancouver commanded an expedition charged with exploring the Pacific region. In its first year the expedition travelled to Cape Town, Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, and China, collecting botanical samples and surveying coastlines along the way. Proceeding to North America, Vancouver followed the coasts of present day Oregon and Washington northward. In April 1792 he encountered American Captain Robert Gray off the coast of Oregon just prior to Gray’s sailing up the Columbia River.

Vancouver entered the Strait of Juan de Fuca, between Vancouver Island and the Washington state mainland on 29 April 1792. His orders included a survey of every inlet and outlet on the west coast of the mainland, all the way north to Alaska. Most of this work was in small craft propelled by both sail and oar; maneuvering larger sail-powered vessels in uncharted waters was generally impractical and dangerous.

Vancouver was the first European to enter Burrard Inlet on 13 June 1792, naming it after his friend Sir Harry Burrard. It is the present day main harbour area of the City of Vancouver beyond Stanley Park. He surveyed Howe Sound and Jervis Inlet over the next nine days.Little, Gary. Then, on his 35th birthday on 22 June 1792, he returned to Point Grey, the present day location of the University of British Columbia. Here he unexpectedly met a Spanish expedition led by Dionisio Alcalá Galiano and Cayetano Valdés y Flores. Vancouver was "mortified" (his word) to learn they already had a crude chart of the Strait of Georgia based on the 1791 exploratory voyage of José María Narváez the year before, under command of Francisco de Eliza. For three weeks they cooperatively explored the Georgia Strait and the Discovery Islands area before sailing separately towards Nootka Sound.

After the summer surveying season ended, in November 1792 Vancouver went to Nootka, then the region’s most important harbour, on contemporary Vancouver Island. Here he was to receive any British buildings and lands returned by the Spanish from claims by Francisco de Eliza for the Spanish crown. The Spanish commander, Juan Francisco Bodega y Quadra, was very cordial and he and Vancouver exchanged the maps they had made, but no agreement was reached; they decided to await further instructions. At this time, they decided to name the large island on which Nootka was now proven to be located as Quadra and Vancouver Island. Years later, as Spanish influence declined, the name was shortened to simply Vancouver Island.The Voyage of George Vancouver 1791–1795, Volume 1, ed: W. Kaye Lamb, Hakluyt Society, 1984, p.247

While at Nootka Sound Vancouver acquired Robert Gray’s chart of the lower Columbia River. Gray had entered the river during the summer before sailing to Nootka Sound for repairs. Vancouver realized the importance of verifying Gray’s information and conducting a more thorough survey. In October 1792, he sent Lieutenant William Robert Broughton with several boats up the Columbia River. Broughton got as far as the Columbia River Gorge, sighting and naming Mount Hood.

Vancouver sailed south along the coast of Spanish Alta California, visiting Chumash villages at Point Conception and near Mission San Buenaventura.http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/chis/chumash.pdf pp. 139–40 (98–99) Accessed 18 June 2010 Vancouver spent the winter in continuing exploration of the Sandwich Islands, the contemporary islands of Hawaii.

Further explorations

The next year, 1793, he returned to British Columbia and proceeded further north, unknowingly missing the overland explorer Alexander Mackenzie by only 48 days. He got to 56°30’N, having explored north from Point Menzies in Burke Channel to the northwest coast of Prince of Wales Island. He sailed around the latter island, as well as circumnavigating Revillagigedo Island and charting parts of the coasts of Mitkof, Zarembo, Etolin, Wrangell, Kuiu and Kupreanof Islands. With worsening weather, he sailed south to Alta California, hoping to find Bodega y Quadra and fulfill his territorial mission, but the Spaniard was not there. He again spent the winter in the Sandwich Islands.

In 1794, he first went to Cook Inlet, the northernmost point of his exploration, and from there followed the coast south. Boat parties charted the east coasts of Chichagof and Baranof Islands, circumnavigated Admiralty Island, explored to the head of Lynn Canal, and charted the rest of Kuiu Island and nearly all of Kupreanof Island. He then set sail for Great Britain by way of Cape Horn, returning in September 1795, thus completing a circumnavigation.