Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island (VI), British Columbia, is the largest island in the Pacific Northwest region at just over 31,000 square km—nearly the size of the Netherlands; it is roughly 460 km long and 50-120 km wide.1 VI is separated from mainland British Columbia by Queen Charlotte Sound to the north, the Strait of Georgia to the east, and, from the United States, by the Juan de Fuca Strait to the south. VI is home to British Columbia's provincial capital of Victoria.
Human presence on VI goes back several thousand years,2 and a variety of indigenous groups still inhabit nearly every region. VI received its English name from British Royal Navy Captain George Vancouver, who made exploration surveys of VI and its surrounding waters, at various times, between 1792 and 1794.3
Initially, the island was named Quadra and Vancouver's Island to commemorate Spanish Captain Don Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra and Vancouver's amicable meeting at Nootka in 1792, amidst increased naval tensions in the area between Spain and Britain.4 VI became the focus of HBC and British interests, particularly after the Oregon Treaty of 1846, which established the 49th parallel, including VI, as part of the boundary between US and British territory.5
  • 1. Alan F. J. Artibise, Vancouver Island, The Canadian Encyclopedia.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. John T. Walbran, British Columbia Coast Names (Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1971), 501.
  • 4. Ibid., 502.
  • 5. E. E. Rich, Hudson's Bay Company 1670-1870, vol. 3, 1821-1870 (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1961), 749-786.
Mentions of this place in the documents