Balch, Captain Lafayette
b. 1825
d. 1862
According to this letter, Captain Lafayette Balch, a native of Maine, co-owned the trading vessel Demaris Cove with Lieutenant Palmer.1
In 1951, both the Demaris Cove and the schooner Georgianna travelled to Haida Gwaii in search of gold.2 In January 1952, the Georgianna was wrecked in a storm in the Skidegate Inlet, and Balch, aboard the Demaris Cove, rescued the crew and passengers.3
The shipwrecked crew had been held by members of the Haida nation for eight weeks. Whether the crew were guests or prisoners was unclear, but this letter refers to a note from a crew member claiming that they were captives in the hands of the Indians, who had stripped them of everything.4 The crew sent the HBC a plea for help, but they were ignored because the HBC viewed them as an American threat to their gold prospects at Haida Gwaii.5 Captain Balch went to their aid and managed to safely ransome all the detainees.6
A cluster of Islands within Haida Gwaii, formerly known as the Channel Islands, are now called the Balch Islands.7
  • 1. Andrew Scott, The Encyclopedia of Raincoast Place Names (Madeira Park, BC: Harbour Publishing, 2009), 55.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. Ibid.
  • 7. Ibid.
Mentions of this person in the documents
People in this document

Palmer, Henry Spencer

Vessels in this document

Demaris Cove


Places in this document

Haida Gwaii