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George Vancouver expedition

George Vancouver

HMS Discovery anbd the Chatham

In 1792 Captain George Vancouver began a detailed survey of the Coast of British Columbia. He sailed with the ships Discovery and Chatham. This painting shows both ships under sail and in view of the snow capped Coast Mountains.


George Vancouver's Journal

In the same year 1792, that Galiano surveyed the waters off South Surrey, Captain George Vancouver began his survey of the coast on behalf of the British Government. With the Discovery and the Chatham anchored in Birch Bay, Vancouver and Lieutenant Puget in two small boats began a reconnaissance of the coast towards the north.


With a week's provisions in each boat, I departed at five o'clock on Tuesday morning (Tuesday June 12, 1792). The most northerly branch, though it soon terminated in two open bays: the southernmost (Semiahmoo Bay), which is the smallest, has two small rocks lying off its south point; it extends in a circular form to the eastward, with a shoal of land projecting some distance from its shores(Semiahmoo Spit). This bay afford good anchorage from 7 to 10 fathoms of water: the other is much larger (Boundary Bay) and extends to the northward; these by noon, we had passed around, but the shoals attached to the shores of each, and particularly to those of the later, prevented our reaching with 4 or 5 miles of their heads. The point constituting the west extremity of these bays(Point Roberts), is that which was seen from the ship, and considered as the western part of the mainland, of which it is a small portion, much elevated at the south extremity of a very low narrow peninsula; its highest part is to the SE, formed by high white sand cliffs falling perpendicularly into the sea: from whence a shoal extends to the distance of half a mile round it joining those of the larger bay. From this point, situated in latitude 48 degrees 57 minutes, longitude 237 degrees 21 minutes (which I distinguished by the name of Point Roberts, after my esteemed friend and predecessor in the Discovery) the coast takes a direction N. 28W.

The brig Chatham

This picture is from Steve Mayo's painting of the brig "Chatham", the smaller of the two ships on Captain George Vanoucver's voyage to local waters. Mr. William Broughton was commander of the Chatham. This picture illustrates the method of exploration where by the Chathams' boats would leave the ship to conduct a detailed exploration and mapping of all the Bays and Inlets.
Source: The Vancouver Sun, June 22, 2007


On June 4th, Vancouver went shore to take possession(at Point Grey) of the coast north from 39 degrees 20 minutes to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and to claim the interior seas which he named the Gulf of Georgia.


Archibald Menzies, a member of Vancouver's expedition, described the landing at what later became known as Cannery Point.


Here (Point Roberts) they landed to dine near a large deserted Village capable of contining at least 400 or 500 inhabitants, tho it was now in perfect ruins - nothing but the skeletions of the houses remained, these however were sufficient to show their general form structure and position. Each house appeared distinct and capacious of the form of an oblong square, and they were arranged in three separate rows of consideraable length; the Beams consisted of huge long pieces of Timber placed in Notches on the top of supporters 14 feet from the ground, but by what mechanical power the Natives had raised these bulky beams to that height they could not conjecture. Three supporters stood at each end for the longitudinal beams, and an equal number were arranged on each side for the support of smaller cross beams in each house.

Cannery Point, Point Roberts

Captain Vancouver's party saw what was the Straits Salish temporary summer camp at Cannery Point. They must have seen the frames of houses or the drying racks upon which the fishermen put their fish. The Salish did not stay at Cannery Point the year round. However, in late June, July, and August it seethed with activity. At this campsite the fishermen constructed small houses, and on the beach in front of the houses ran the drying racks, about fourteen feet high, and the whole length of the beach.


On the morning of June 22, as his men where rowing back to Point Grey they observed a brig and a schooner wearing Spanish colours. The meeting was polite and friendly and information was exchanged. An arrangement was made for a joint expedition northward which outlined that the land to the west was an island, Vancouver Island.


George Vancouver

George Vancouver 1757-1798

A hydrographer who had served with Captain Cook on his first and last voyages to the West Coast of North America. He was charged with making an accurate survey of the pacific coast line north form 30 North Latitude to Cook's Inlet. As part of this survey he coasted along the shores of Semiahmoo and Boundary Bays and wrote in his log a description of South Surrey and Delta.


Vancouver's map 1792

This is the first map George Vancouver made of the Vancouver and Semiahmoo Bay areas. Most of Vancouver's surverys were conducted in small boats each providing small survey maps. This map is a composite of the smaller more local surveys made using the ship's boats.


Source: Historical Atlas of Vancouver and the Lower Fraser Valley – Derek Hayes



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