Nootka Sound, BC, is an inlet on VANCOUVER ISLAND's
western coast, 270 km northwest of VICTORIA
. From a cluster of forested islands near the mouth of the sound, 3 deep inlets (Tahsis, Tlupana and Muchalat) penetrate inland. One of these reaches 65 km inland to STRATHCONA PROVINCIAL PARK
, another to the sawmilling community of Tahsis.
Early Settlement and Development
The first inhabitants of the region were the NOOTKA, who made their living by hunting and fishing. They were the only Canadian NATIVE PEOPLE to specialize in WHALING and were the first in BC to meet Europeans. The coastal environment was particularly bountiful in fish of many varieties, and the semisedentary Nootka developed an elaborate culture.
The sound was likely first explored by James COOK
in 1778, although Peréz Hernandez had approached it 4 years earlier. Cook first called the inlet King George's Sound, then Nootka Sound, thinking this was its native name. Soon after, the region became a centre of trade and then of competition among Russia, Britain and Spain. In 1789 a Spanish force occupied the sound and built a fort; 2 months later a British force arrived and a quarrel developed. In the ensuing NOOTKA SOUND CONTROVERSY
, Spain eventually agreed to a convention (1794) according to which both nations were free to navigate and fish in the Pacific, to trade and establish settlements. At first the Nootka prospered from the sea-otter fur trade that followed European explorations, but the introduction of diseases such as SMALLPOX
virtually wiped them out.
The main native settlement at Yuquot ("windy place") is still important for the remaining Nootka, many of whom work in pulp mills at Gold River and CAMPBELL RIVER
See also NORTHWEST COAST.
John Meares, explorer
In 1788 Meares sailed with two ships to Nootka,BC where he built a temporary trading post (courtesy PABC/PDP 5179).
Captain James Cook's ship "Discovery" in Nootka Sound, on Vancouver Island (courtesy Library and Archives Canada/C-11201).
ALAN F.J. ARTIBISE
Links to Other Sites
Juan de Fuca
A biography of Greek navigator Juan de Fuca (Ioannis Phokas), who was said to have participated in 16th century Spanish expeditions along the west coast of North America. From the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association.
The Strait of Anian and British Northwest America: Cook's Third Voyage in Perspective
An article about James Cook's voyages of exploration along the West Coast of North America. From "BC Studies," a University of British Columbia website.
The Settlement of Nootka Sound: Its Distributional Morphology, 1900-1970
A thesis devoted to the history of First Nations inhabitants and European pioneers who settled in the Nootka Sound region of British Columbia. Includes a picturesque description of the local physiography. From the Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University.
Mowachaht Muchalaht First Nation
This website is devoted to the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nations people and their ancestral home at Yuquot on Nootka Island.