Orcas Island
Orcas is a horseshoe-shaped island in the San Juan group, Washington State, and its name arises from complex and murky origins. Middleton writes that Francisco de Eliza, a Spanish explorer, named it after the ship Boca de Horcasitas, and as it was anglicized and truncated, “Horcasitas” lost its H and became Orcas.1 However, Brokenshire is convinced that another Spaniard on the same voyage, Pantoja, named the island in reference to the volume of killer whales, or “orcas” in Spanish, that surrounded his longboat during his surveys in the area.2
Both sources agree that Captain Kellett did the work to restore the name Orcas to the Island in 1847, as it had been known for a time as Hull Island, a mantle given by US explorer Wilkes during his expedition to the region from 1838-1842.3
Mentions of this place in the documents
People in this document

Kellett, Henry

Wilkes, Charles

Places in this document

San Juan Islands

The Colonial Despatches Team. Orcas Island. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, Edition 2.2, ed. The Colonial Despatches Team. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria. https://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/orcas_island.html.

Last modified: 2020-12-02 13:40:34 -0800 (Wed, 02 Dec 2020) (SVN revision: 5008)