Reviews of Books Available at the Vancouver Island Regional Library
~ By Annemarie Koch -
Title: Historical Atlas of British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest
Author: Derek Hayes
Published By:Â Cavendish Books
Year:Â Reprinted With Revisions 2000
After the twitter tempest over a harmless subject like dirt, I thought Iâ€™d move on to a less controversial book topic likeâ€¦…..identifying the first non-aboriginal explorers to visit the Pacific Northwest.
Author Derek Hayes deftly uses maps as a source of information and a way to document European exploration of the west coast of North America.
Starting with a map produced in Venice in 1566 that was built on an interpretation of Marco Poloâ€™s travels, Hayes shows us how the mythical Strait of Anian became the source of an over 200-year search for the Northwest Passage. While Russian, English, French, Spanish and American navigators never did find this elusive shortcut to the Indies, their explorations and surveys did tell us much about the coastline, flora, fauna and peoples of western North America.
Using maps, Hayes tracks the voyage of Sir Francis Drake, reputed to be the first European to visit the northern shores of North America in 1579 (though there is still much debate about how far north he travelled and whether he reached as far as the 60th parallel or even the Strait of Juan de Fuca â€“ for more on this, read Sam Bawlfâ€™s The Secret Voyage of Sir Francis Drake, 1577-1580), and features the German Gerhard Mullerâ€™s cartographic work in 1754 on behalf of the Russians, built on Beringâ€™s voyages. He moves ahead to the Spanish explorations of Juan Perez in 1774, followed by the Malaspina expedition led by Galiano and Valdes, and George Vancouverâ€™s overlapping survey of Vancouver Islandâ€™s inside passage in 1792 (for more on this, read John Kendrickâ€™s Voyage of Sutil and Mexicana, 1792: The Last Spanish Exploration of the Northwest Coast of America).
With every turn of the page, the reader discovers maps with different degrees of accuracy, colour schemes and purposes, from the basic surveys of Quadra and Vancouver to Thompsonâ€™s establishment of terrain features for the Hudson Bay Companyâ€™s trading empire to Waddingtonâ€™s colourful 1858 depiction of the gold and coal that was to be found â€śin B.C.â€™s land of opportunity.â€ť
For an account of more recent survey work done in this area by the Royal Navy, read Dorricott and Cullonâ€™s The Private Journal of Captain G.H. Richards: The Vancouver Island Survey (1860-1862).
Readers of Hayesâ€™ work will know that he has a new book this year titled British Columbia: A New Historical Atlas. Copies of the book have been purchased and are now available through VIRL.
For those of you looking for a deeper history of the first approaches to the northwest coast of America, here are a few books available through the Vancouver Island Regional Library system: Gavin Menziesâ€™ 1421 The Year China Discovered America,Â and Knut Fladmarkâ€™s British Columbia Prehistory.