Captain George Vancouver has many legacies. Amongst other things, he was the first to chart the North Pacific Coast, he was the first European (along with his crew) to visit the site that would one day be named after him and greet the many thousands of people already living here, and he was he was the inspiration for a now defunct chain of Metro Vancouver fast-food restaurants in the 1970s (“Cap’n George’s”).
Vancouver was renowned for his meticulous charting. Yet, in the incredibly detailed maps that he drew of the west coast, he somehow missed the Fraser and Columbia Rivers. Twice. Had Vancouver somehow noticed the Columbia, Britain’s claim — and ultimately Canada’s — would probably have pushed the border south to include Washington, Idaho, Montana, and the Dakotas. Seattle, BC does have a nice ring to it.
Vancouver explored the north Pacific Coast in 1792 and again in 1793, then headed south before returing to his native England in 1795. He died three years later, aged 40.
Vancouver was buried in his parish churchyard in Petersham, a village now encircled by the London metropolis. Our namesaked city makes a donation of several hundred dollars each year to pay for the maintenance of his grave.
For many years—at least since the 1940s—the tiny Church, St. Peter’s, has conducted a memorial service on Canada Day to remember the Captain. This year, Megaphone was there to observe the laying of wreaths by the parish priest, a member of the Royal Canadian Navy, and a local Sea Scout.
1 July 2012