Captain Cook

English: "A Native of King George's Sound...
“A Native of King George’s Sound” (Nootka Sound), from the book An Authentic Narrative of a Voyage Performed by Captain Cook and Captain Clerke, in His Majesty’s ships Resolution and Discovery, during years 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, and 1780, by William Ellis; published in London, 1783, by G. Robinson, J. Sewell and J. Debrett. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is amazing to realize that nearly thirty years before Champlain was active in Canada, Sir Francis Drake tried to find the Northwest Passage by sailing around the Horn and exploring the Pacific coast. He made that voyage in the Golden Hind, in 1579, and claimed what is now California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia for England.

Drake blamed them “stinking fogges” (fogs) for his failure to discover the Northwest passage, although he sailed as far north as Alaska. His voyage was a success, however, because when he returned to England, the ballast in his ships was gold and silver taken from the Spaniards.

Other romantic buccaneers followed Drake. The most successful was Captain Cook, who was also sent to try to find the Northwest Passage from the Pacific. Cook had done a wonderful job as navigating officer for General Wolfe in 1759, guiding the Armada of British ships safely up the St. Lawrence. When the Admiralty sent him to the Pacific to look for the Northwest Passage, Cook’s navigating officer was the cruel Captain Bligh, who had been made famous by the book, Mutiny on the Bounty. Another of Cook’s officers was Young George Vancouver.

On March 7, 1778, Oregon was sighted by Cook’s ships, Resolution and Discovery. Sailing North, they unluckily missed the mouth of the Columbia River. A storm drove them out to sea when they reached Cape Flattery and they missed the Strait of Juan de Fuca leading to the water between Vancouver Island and the British Columbia mainland.

However, Cook did find the beautiful harbour of Nootka Sound where he rested the crew for a month. Scurvy was cured by making a brew of Bruce bark. (Cartier learned a similar recipe when wintering at Quebec in 1535).

When Nootka, Cook sailed north until turned back by ice in the Bering Sea. From there he sailed south,and was murdered by natives in Hawaii. Drake and Cook have paved the way for Vancouver and the others who mapped and colonized British Columbia.

9 comments

  1. Nice post! Would you believe that the hat in the picture was made by the aboriginals weaving strips of cedar bark? I live on Vancouver Island and find the history of this area fascinating.

    Blessings ~ Wendy

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    • I believe you about the hat, greelightlady, and I think that’s interesting! Thank you for that bit of trivia! I’ also glad you enjoyed the post … 🙂

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  2. I’m really enjoying your blog, thanks for all the hard work you’re putting in. If I lived back then, I’d have loved to have been expedition artist on an explorers ship. Russell.

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    • I know you commented way back at the beginning of March, but wordpress hid you (and about another 100 messages) from me.
      Thank you for the kind words. Very much appreciated! 🙂

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