Vancouver, Captain George

Captain George Vancouver was British Naval officer best known for his explorations of the Pacific Northwest of America.

George Vancouver was born in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, England on June 22, 1757. He began his naval career aboard the HMS Resolution, captained by James Cook. Upon completion of two voyages with Captain Cook, Vancouver was then commissioned as a Lieutenant aboard the HMS Martin surveying coast lines. It is this work that would set him apart. Following the Nootka Crisis (which resulted in skirmishes between the Spanish and the English as both tried to assert their authority over the territory), Captain Vancouver was given the Discovery and the Chatham and charged with the task of surveying the Pacific Northwest coastline.

The mission was time consuming as the Discovery and the Chatham were too large to fit into the many channels and inlets of the coastline; instead small ship boats were sent in every direction to examine the coast up close. Vancouver’s maps were so great in detail that they were used as the key reference for coastal navigation for generations to come.

The English sea captain encountered aid from both Native Americans and other explorers in the area. Vancouver returned to the Sandwich Islands before completing his America surveys. Once finished in the Pacific Northwest, Vancouver and his men sailed south along the Americas before rounding the tip of Cape Horn and returning home.

In addition to his contributions to navigational records of the Pacific Northwest, he also contributed many surveys of Australia, the Galapagos Islands, the Sandwich Islands and Mexico and Chile. His ships also introduced new plants such as the orange and cattle to the Sandwich Islands.

Captain Vancouver was welcomed home to a flurry of political charges and was challenged to a duel by Thomas Pitt. To weak to respond, Vancouver lived the remainder of his days in obscurity. He was buried in a modest grave in Petersham, Surrey in 1798.