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George Vancouver

Born in King's Lynn, England, George Vancouver (1757-1798) served under Captain James Cook on his second (1772-1775) and third (1776-1780) expeditions.

On his second voyage, Cook had been looking for the possible existence of the Northwest Passage, and in 1791 Vancouver was commissioned to complete this search. He was also instructed to negotiate with the Spanish about the ownership of Nootka Sound[?] on Vancouver Island. He rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and visited New Holland (Australia), New Zealand, Tahiti and the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) before reaching the Pacific coast of North America, about 110 miles north of San Francisco, on April 17, 1792, just a year after his departure.

He followed the coasts of Oregon and Washington northward, then entered the Strait of Juan de Fuca, between Vancouver Island and the mainland. He intended to explore every bay and outlet of this region, and many times had to use boats rather than his ships to do so, because the inlets were often too narrow for his ships. He met a Spanish exploring party led by Dionisio Alcala Galiano[?] and Cayetano Valdes y Flores[?], and for some time they explored Puget Sound together. Afterwards, Vancouver went to Nootka [?](a place on Vancouver Island, then the most important harbour of the region), where he had to get any British buildings or lands returned from the Spanish. The reception by the Spanish commander Bodega y Quadra[?] was heartily, but they did not get agreement, and decided to await further instructions from their governments. After a visit to Spanish California, Vancouver spent the winter to further explore the Sandwich Islands.

The next year he went back to British Columbia, and explored the coast further north. He got 56 degrees north, and because the more northern parts had already been explored by Cook, he then sailed south to California, hoping to be able to fulfull his task regarding Nootka; however, Bodega y Quadra was not there. He again spent the winter on the Sandwich Islands.

In 1794, he first went to Cook Inlet[?], the northernmost limit of his exploration, and from there he followed the coast southward to Baranov Island[?], which he had also reached the year before. He then set sail for England, choosing the route around Cape Horn, thus completing a circumnavigation.

At the end of the exploration. Vancouver determined that the Northwest Passage did not exist at the latitudes that had long been suggested. Various locations around the world have been named after George Vancouver, including Vancouver Island and the cities of Vancouver, Washington, USA and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

In turn, the family name Vancouver was derived from 'Van Coevorden', i.e. 'from Coevorden', hence the locations mentioned were indirectly named after this town in the Netherlands.

Discoverers Web by Andre Engels: http://www.win.tue.nl/~engels/discovery/vancouver



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