This Week in History
No habla español! The Spanish Lake Retreat
For the week of Monday March 26, 2007
On March 28, 1795, the Spanish garrison at Friendly Cove, British Columbia, boarded their ships and departed, ending Spain’s exploration of the Pacific Northwest. In the late 18th century, Spanish authorities had decided to expand northwards from Mexico to assert their sovereignty over the Pacific Basin, otherwise known as the Spanish Lake.
In 1774, Juan Perez explored the Queen Charlotte Islands and Vancouver Island’s west coast, trading with the Haida and the Nuu-Chah-Nulth first peoples for sea otter and other furs. The next year, the Quadra-Hezeta expedition explored as far north as Alaska. The 1779 Arteaga-Quadra mission to Nueva Galicia (Pacific Northwest) mapped major portions of the coast and instigated extensive contacts with the indigenous peoples. Exploration ceased until 1788, when the French explorer La Pérouse reported permanent Russian settlements and numerous British and American trading vessels along the Pacific Northwest. Spain then resolved to establish a permanent trading fort on Vancouver Island to re-assert Spanish sovereignty.
The conventions led to better relations between the two nations and ultimately, with the First Peoples. For several months each year, the Spanish and British worked together to chart the network of channels and islands in the area, sharing all their findings. With the third Nootka Convention of January 1794, Spain and Britain agreed to remove all permanent settlements. In 1795, the Spanish departed Nootka Sound, ending forever Spanish involvement on Canada’s Northwest Coast. The Last Spanish Exploration was designated a National Historic Event in 1927.
- Date Modified: