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Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island is a large island in British Columbia, Canada, one of several North American regions named after George Vancouver, the British Royal Navy officer who explored the Pacific coast of North America between 1791 and 1794.

Indigenous people

Vancouver Island has been the homeland to many main indigenous peoples for thousands of years. These are the Kwakwaka'wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth, and Coast Salish. Kwakwaka'wakw territory includes northern Vancouver Island, with parts of the mainland, then Nuu-chah-nulth spanning from the northern western part of the island, to the south, covering the west coast, and Coast Salish covering the lower eastern part. Their cultures are connected to the natural resources abundant in the area.

European exploration

Europeans began to explore the island in 1774, when rumours of Russian fur traders caused the Spanish to send a ship, the Santiago north under the command of Juan José Pérez Hernández. In 1775, a second Spanish expedition under the Peruvian captain Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra was sent.
Vancouver Island came to the attention of the wider world after the third voyage of Captain James Cook, who landed at Nootka Sound of the island's western shore on March 31, 1778, and claimed it for the United Kingdom. The island's rich fur trading potential led the British East India Company to set up a single-building trading post in the native village of Yuquot (Friendly Cove) on Nootka Island, a small island in the sound.
The island was further explored by Spain in 1789 by Esteban José Martínez, who built Fort San Miguel on one of Vancouver Island's small offshore islets in the sound near Yuquot. This was to be the only Spanish settlement in what would later be Canada. The Spanish began seizing British ships, and the two nations came close to war in the ensuing Nootka Crisis, but the issues were resolved peacefully with the Nootka Convention in 1792, in which both countries recognized the other's rights to the area. Supervising the British activities was Captain George Vancouver from King's Lynn in England, who had sailed as a midshipman with Cook, and from whom the island gained its name. In 1792, the Spanish explorer Dionisio Alcalá Galiano and his crew were the first Europeans to circumnavigate Vancouver Island. While we know this island today as Vancouver Island the English explorer had not intentionally meant to name such a large body of land solely after himself. In his September 1792 dispatch log report for the British Admiralty, Captain Vancouver reveals that his decision here was rather meant to honour a request by the Peruvian seafarer Juan Francisco Quadra that Vancouver:
"would name some port or island after us both in commemoration of our meeting and friendly intercourse that on that occasion had taken place (Vancouver had previously feted Quadra on his ship);....and conceiving no place more eligible than the place of our meeting, I have therefore named this land...The Island of Quadra and Vancouver."
If Vancouver had been vain as some writers had charged, he could have chosen to name the entire Island exclusively after himself instead of sharing its name with Quadra and placing the latter's name before his. The newly discovered "Quadra's and Vancouver's Island" was the most prominent name on maps of the coast, and appeared on most British, French and Spanish maps of the period. But as Spanish interests in the region dwindled, so did Quadra's name. The Hudson's Bay Company played a major part in the transition; by 1824 'Vancouver's Island' had become the usual designation in its correspondence for the island. A quarter of a century later, Vancouver Island had become such a well known geographical feature, that the founding of the Colony of Vancouver Island in 1849 gave this name full official status. Period references to "Vancouver" referred to Vancouver Island until the naming of the city of Vancouver in 1885.

British settlement

Shortly thereafter, in 1846, the Oregon Treaty was signed by the British and the U.S. to settle the question of the U.S. Oregon Territory borders. It awarded all of Vancouver Island to what would be Canada, despite a portion of the island lying south of the 49th parallel. In 1849, the Colony of Vancouver Island was established. Following the brief governorship of Richard Blanshard, James Douglas, Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay post, assumed the role in 1851.
The first British settlement on the island was a Hudson's Bay Company post, Fort Camosack, founded in 1843, and later renamed Fort Victoria. Fort Victoria became an important base during the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush in 1858, and the burgeoning town was incorporated as Victoria in 1862. Victoria became the capital of the colony of Vancouver Island, then retained that status when the island was amalgamated with the mainland in 1866. A British naval base, including a large shipyard and a naval hospital, was established at Esquimalt, British Columbia, in 1865 and eventually taken over by the Canadian military.
The economic situation of the colony declined following the Cariboo Gold Rush of 1861-1862, and pressure grew for amalgamation of the colony with the mainland colony of British Columbia (which had been established in 1858). The colony's third and last governor, Sir Arthur Kennedy oversaw the union of the two colonies in 1866.

(Source Wikipedia)