This account of George Vancouver’s life and survey teams takes much inspiration from his journals edited by Canadian scholar W. Kaye Lamb. The author has journeyed along much of the British Columbia coast which Vancouver surveyed, experiencing the daunting majesty of the intricate waterways and difficulties of their winding channels and dangers.
Britain's interest in the Northwest coast of America had been enlivened during the late eighteenth century showing little regard to Spain's blanket claim for the whole coast from Cape Horn to the very north of America. Britain was determined to establish as their own, claim to the fur trade and whaling industry. Tensions arose between the two countries and Britain mobilised her fleet in preparation of hostilities breaking out, this became known as the Spanish Armament. Tensions eased by negotiation and Britain gained equal trading rights and posts on the Northwest Coast north of any Spanish settlements, this became known as the Nootka Sound Agreement.
An expedition was prepared with two ships fitting out. George Vancouver was given command, his professionalism in chart and surveying work during his time in the West Indies noted by the Admiralty. The expedition sailed on all Fools' day 1791 and returned 17th September 1795. Although Vancouver suffered from acute ill-health a thorough survey of the Southwest coast of Australia, and the whole west coast of America from just north of San Francisco to the Aleutian Islands was undertaken. He carried out the diplomatic meeting with the Spanish commissioner on the terms of the Nootka Sound Agreement and negotiation with the Hawaiian chiefs for the islands to become a protectorate of Great Britain.
Alas for all these credible achievements he was never recognised until long after his death.