Variant spellings of Camosun include Camoosan and Cam├Ásack. James Douglas, prior to his years as governor, was tasked by the HBC in 1842 to find appropriate land on which to establish a trading fort. Reports of the quality of southern Vancouver Island lands had been embellished to date. Nevertheless, Douglas found the Songhees people's lands surrounding modern-day Victoria Harbour agreeable to settlement. He found roughly 10 square km fit for till or pasture, a secure harbour, timber for building, and a source for water-power nearby, though he recommended wells be dug for a reliable source for fresh water.1
At this time, the HBC felt pressure to shift its depots from the coasts, partly in response to growing tensions with the United States. By 1843, Fort Victoria was established adjacent to a Songhees village. The Songhees helped to build the fort, located on present-day Bastion Square. In 1844, the Songhess moved their village to the west shore of Victoria harbour, and by 1853, the village became a reserve.2
  • 1. E. E. Rich, Hudson's Bay Company 1670-1870, vol. 3, 1821-1870 (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1961), 718-719.
  • 2. West-side Victoria Harbour, The Songhees Nation Information and Resource Site: Current History.
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Douglas, James

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Vancouver Island


Victoria Harbour