The Coveted Pacific Coast

Vancouver and Bodega Y Quadra

To settle the details of the Nootka Bay Agreement, Great Britain appointed George Vancouver, a captain of the Royal Navy and a former companion of the explorer James Cook, to the position of commissioner; Bodega, a captain of the Spanish navy and a veteran explorer of the northwest coast, was his counterpart for Spain. Vancouver and Bodega met at Nootka in August 1792. They maintained good relations but were unable to agree on the details to be covered by the agreement. They therefore mutually decided to submit their problem to their respective governments so as not to risk another diplomatic incident.

Vancouver continued to explore the coast and he became the first European to circumnavigate the island that today bears his name. He also continued Cook's work by attempting to determine the existence of a Northwest Passage; for three summers he meticulously studied the whole coastline between the 30th and 60th parallels. He returned to England only in September 1795. Three years later he published an exhaustive and excellent account of his voyage. He asserted without the slightest hesitation that the entrance to the Northwest Passage that was so eagerly sought after did not exist within the limits of the territory he had explored, which is correct.