"Of all national assets, archives are the most precious:
they are the gift of one generation to another,
and the extent of our care of them marks the
extent of our civilization." Arthur Doughty.

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San Juan Islands, Washington State, United States
A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 500, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.

25 February 2014

❖ KANAKAS ❖

"The very first schooling was in private homes, and the first school houses were built by donation. From an old list of contributors to the building of the first school house on San Juan in the year 1865, we will record here six names, S. V. Boyce, Charles McCoy, Joseph Nickerson, George Walker, Louis Farado, and Tahana. There were 41 names on this list and the donations were days of work––so many days––or with yokes of oxen or teams,or cedar shakes, or work and money, or money, ten dollars in gold, a number of times. The last two names may seem unusual. They were Kanakas.
      An unlooked-for nationality, it would seem, and interesting, to trace. Most of the sailing vessels from Europe to the Puget Sound would put in at the Sandwich Islands for fresh water and provisions. Also many a sailor's fancy was taken by the happy, easy life of these islands and desertions were many. The natives were, by nature good sailors, and learned seamanship easily; it was common practice to fill out the crew by shipping Kanakas. These in turn often left the ship while in Victoria and their places were filled usually by white men seeking passage back to Europe.
      
Kanaka Bay, San Juan Island, WA. 1911
From the Galen Biery Collection

     Fish being plentiful and the climate mild, some of these Kanakas brought their wives to Victoria, BC,  and there was a little settlement of Kanakas, known as Kanaka Row. The Hudson Bay Co found that the Kanakas made very satisfactory herdsmen. They brought a number of Kanakas to San Juan Island; they settled on that westerly part of the island that is now marked on the chart "Kanaka Bay." They and their families lived there and took some part in many of the activities.
      After the settlement of the Boundary Dispute they were all removed to Victoria. Near to the entrance of the Oceanographic Labs of the University of WA, a Kanaka by the name of Joe Friday built his cabin and made his home. For several years his was the only smoke visible from the bay that came to be known as Friday's Harbor. The first large map used in the courthouse still carried the possessive and was marked Friday's Harbor."

Above text written by dedicated island historian Frank Mullis(1886-1967), Friday Harbor, WA., a history series entitled "Partial History of the San Juan Islands"
Published by The Friday Harbor Journal, 1950s.
More reading: Koppel, Tom. KANAKA, The Untold Story of Hawaiian Pioneers in British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest. Vancouver/Toronto. Whitecap Books. 1995.

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