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The Military Art of the American Northwest

Type: Document

War in the Pacific Northwest centred around the canoe, which could be up to 20 metres long. Flotillas of canoes would attack enemy villages, hoping to capture prisoners to keep as slaves. Coastal forts of cedar logs were to be found, used to help control and tax maritime trade.

Site: National Defence

Formidable Fighters

Type: Document

The peoples of the Pacific coast were formidable fighters during the 18th and 19th centuries. Their warriors used bows and javelins, carried clubs and bone-bladed daggers, and could wear wooden armour. They preferred a mass assault, but treachery during 'friendly' meetings were not rare.

Site: National Defence

A Series of Amerindian Nations

Type: Document

During the eighteenth century, the northwest Pacific coast was home to a series of Amerindian nations, including the Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, Nootka and Salish. These were maritime cultures - excellent sailors and fishermen who depended on the sea's resources

Site: National Defence

Trouble, and a First European Settlement

Type: Document

In 1789, a Nootka chief was killed while arguing with the Spanish about being allowed to trade with British ships in the region. Despite this and previous troubles, a decision was made to create a permanent base at Nootka, and a presidio, or Spanish frontier fort, was built and garrisoned.

Site: National Defence

Ships of Cook's expedition at Nootka in 1778

Type: Image

This engraving is based on a drawing by John Webber, the official artist of Captain Cook's third Pacific voyage of 1776-1779. HMS Resolution and HMS Discovery are shown anchored in Ship Cove off Nootka Sound. The expedition paused there in April 1778 for a refit. A series of astronomical observations were made from a temporary observatory on shore. The tents and instruments of the observatory can be seen at left. Several Nootka dugouts can be seen, filled with locals observing the visitors. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence

Captain James Cook meeting Nootka leaders at Nootka Sound, 1778

Type: Image

James Cook (1728-1779) is shown meeting Nootka leader Muquinna (died 1798) at Nootka Sound on what is now Vancouver Island, in 1778, during his explorations of Canada’s northwest coast.

Site: National Defence

Early Explorations of the Northwest Coast

Type: Document

In 1774, moved by worry about the Russians, the Viceroy of New Spain ordered a Spanish frigate to sail north along the Pacific coast, mapping as it went. This first European venture into these waters encountered the Haida and Nootka nations in cautious but cordial meetings.

Site: National Defence

Improved Relations Between Spanish and Locals

Type: Document

During the early 1790s, the Spanish soldiers stationed at Nootka on the British Columbia coast suffered from cold and illness, but their commander, Pedro de Alberni, was able to restore good relations with the Nootka after earlier Spanish attacks on them.

Site: National Defence