Original photo from the archives of the
Saltwater People History Society©
"Be as greedy of happiness as you please and charge it to my account! We didn't think, last New Year's Day, that January 1930, would find us playing around the inlets of Puget Sound with Vancouver, did we?
Whidbey returns from Bellingham Bay, named by Vancouver in all probability for Sir William Bellingham, and describes it: "It is situated behind a cluster of islands, from which a number of channels lead into it . . . It everywhere affords good and secure anchorage. Opposite its north point of entrance, the shores are high and rocky, with some detached rocks lying off them. Here was found a brook of most excellent water. To the north and south of these rocky cliffs the shores are less elevated. . . where some of those beautiful verdant lawns were again presented to our view . . . the forests were composed of an infinitely less variety of trees and their growth was less luxuriant. Those commonly seen were pines of different sorts, the arborvitae, the Oriental Arbutus (is this the madrona?) and, I believe, some species of cypress. On the islands, a few small oaks were seen with the Virginiana juniper . . .
Every smallest bay and cove and inlet has now been examined from Port Discovery down to Budd Inlet, back northward into Canada as far west as Texada Island. It is hard to conceive that so much territory has been covered in two months-– from the last of April to the last of June. It has been possible by working several crews day and night, going short of provisions to finish a set task, staying out in the rain, and forever keeping at it.
While Vancouver's party was up in Canada discovering and exploring and naming channels and islands, and the Chatham with Mr. Whidbey was exploring Bellingham Bay, the Discovery had taken a run over to the San Juan Islands to try to make a picture of them. But they couldn't make heads or tails of all those little coves and capes in the time at their disposal. For all general purposes to get them down as islands in a group was sufficient. Besides which, none of them seemed to think much of our islands, a lapse in appreciation. I find it hard to forgive Vancouver and Menzies – the rest were exploring with so much work to be done, probably.
There is nothing to do now but to go on towards the west and during July and August, explore that vast meandering labyrinth of islands and tiny inlets and bays off Vancouver Island and up in the northwestern corner of the Sound country. The Spanish vessels join Vancouver's party and the four ships proceed together, ___?___
portions of the country to explore, the officers of the boats having dinners and good times together.
Point Marshall, Harwood's Island, and Savary's Island were named on the way. Natives told them they could get through to the ocean up that way, but, while they hoped it was so, they put little faith in the news as knowing too well the savage trick of telling you what he thinks you want to hear!
In this neck of the woods Vancouver proves himself as able to describe ugliness as he had been able to praise beauty at Port Townsend not 200 miles to the southward: " . . . as dismal and gloomy an aspect as nature could well be supposed to exhibit . . . dull and uninteresting . . . dreary rocks and precipices that compose these desolate shores . . . Our residence here was truly forlorn: an awful silence pervaded the gloomy forest, whilst animated nature seemed to have deserted the neighboring country, whose soil afforded only a few small onions, some samphire, and here and there bushes bearing a scanty crop of indifferent berries . . . and not a fish could be tempted to take the hook." I think he is very tired. Worn out with so much beauty, so much exertion. If he had got here first and to Port Discovery last the whole story might have been reversed. I once heard a homesick girl from Kansas say she didn't like our islands ––they were so barren! From Kansas, mind you! I never did understand what she meant, and here is Vancouver calling them barren, too. Well, she was homesick and he was tired.
Point Mary, Point Sarah, Bute's Channel, Point Mudge, Stuart's Island, Loughborough's Channel and Desolation Bay, where they were so miserably camped, were all explored and named. And Mr. Johnstone did find that hoped-for channel through to the great ocean. It was named Johnstone's Straits for him. On one shore of the straits, Natives were found possessed of muskets and knowing well how to use them. One of the deserted villages they found to be protected by a very ingenuous fort–– so well constructed that they would have doubted that Natives had lived there if they hadn't found their implements, bones, and old clothing. Several of the officers–– both Spanish and English–– examined the discarded clothing so closely that they had to go jump into the Sound immediately afterward. But that gave them no relief so they boiled all their garments, and presumably washed their heads in hot water to kill the myriad of leas.
Hardwicke's Island, Point Chatham, and Thurlow's Island were named by Vancouver. I suppose it was the politeness of the Spanish that permitted the English captain to do the naming. They were all working together, but I find no hint here in the journal of Spanish given names, around here. The Spanish vessels that leave of Vancouver as he starts through Johnstone Straits for the ocean. I wonder where they go. And if it is on this trip that they name our islands SAN JUAN ARCHIPELAGO.
On through the "inside passage" the English ships go naming as they proceed, first the Discovery and then the Chatham going aground on rocks, until at last, they come out into____?_______ exploring inlets and naming them. Finally, they turn towards Nootka and Quadra, who, they have heard several times, awaits them very impatiently, arriving 28 August 1792. Thus ends a more thoroughgoing examination of Puget Sound than we were to have until 1838, and so ends the most fascinating journal of exploration I have ever read. See you tomorrow. June."
June Burn. Puget Soundings published 1 January 1930.