What’s in a Name? Vancouver Island
- Vic Turkington
Vancouver Island: “our home and native island” - but was it always called “Vancouver Island” ? ..... read on !
While Spain ruled the world in the mid 1500's, it is speculated that the British explorer and corsair Sir Francis Drake arrived here during the reign of Elizabeth 1st:. (Elizabethan coins found on Quadra Island and in Oak Bay).
Some 200 years later (1774), the Spanish arrived on Vancouver Island and named it “Gran Isla de Fuca”. Four years later, Capt.James Cook (1728-79) arrived and is credited with being the first British explorer to visit Vancouver Island.
Later in 1792, Capt. George Vancouver (1757-98) circumnavigated and charted Vancouver Island. He met up with the Spanish Capt. Bodega y Quadra, who had also circumnavigated the island, to initiate the terms of the Nootka Convention (later concluded by London & Madrid). The two captains became good friends and readily exchanged charts and information on the area, even though their countries were rivals. To mark their friendship and mutual respect, they decided to name the island “Quadra and Vancouver's” Island. This name appears on early charts (see below). However, as Spanish influence waned and British presence increased (1860s), the name was abbreviated to “Vancouver Island” and remains so today.
So here in Victoria, the history of these intrepid explorers is commemorated in our street names: (Cook, Vancouver & Quadra). In addition, the statue of Capt.James Cook's stands in the inner harbour (opposite the Empress Hotel); a bust of Capt.Quadra is found in Quadra Park (Belleville\Oswego), while the gilded statue of Capt.George Vancouver stands atop the BC Legislature.