During the summers of 1792-94, George Vancouver and the crew of the British naval ships Discovery and Chatham mapped the northwest coast of North America from Baja California to Alaska. Vancouver’s voyage was the last, and longest, of the great Pacific voyages of the late eighteenth century. Taking the art and technique of distant voyaging to a new level, Vancouver eliminated the possibility of a northwest passage and his remarkably precise surveys completed the outline of the Pacific.
But to map an area is to appropriate it – to begin to bring it under control – and Vancouver’s charts of the northwest coast were part of a process of economic exploitation and cultural disruption. Although he and the other great navigators of his age exercised no control over the ideas and enterprises spawned by their voyages, their names have come to symbolize the consequences of European expansion, good or bad.
From Maps to Metaphors brings to light the research on early European exploration of the Pacific and illuminates the European and Native experience. The chapters are written from a variety of perspectives and provide new insights on many aspects of Vancouver’s voyages, from the technology employed to the complex political and power relationships among European explorers and the Native leadership.
While we no longer “celebrate” the arrival to the northwest coast of explorers such as Vancouver, their achievements cannot be overlooked. The charts, log books, journals, and specimens from these voyages are important sources of information and essential for the reconstruction of an image of the Pacific region and its people in the eighteenth century.
A successful edited collection is more than the sum of its chapters; as well as a set of fine separate discussions of disparate topics, From Maps to Metaphors is a model of contemporary scholarship, with its foregrounded, self-conscious awareness of the location of scholars and their sources in time and place, as well as in personal and cultural experiences.
We are indebted to the editors and UBC Press for publishing these excellent papers from the Vancouver conference for the conference brought together superlative scholars on Vancouver which attracted conference participants from all over the world. It must have been difficult to choose the papers that make up this volume.
This is a solid work, and none of its chapters should be dismissed. The authors of From Maps to Metaphors succeed in their attempts to illustrate multiple perspectives regarding the onset of the colonial presence in the Pacific.
Robin Fisher is a historian and the former provost and vice president academic of Mount Royal University. He previously served as the dean of the College of Arts, Social and Health Sciences at the University of Northern British Columbia. He is the author of Vancouver's Voyage (1992); Contact and Conflict: Indian-European Relations in British Columbia, 1774-1890 (UBC Press 1974, 1992); and Duff Pattullo of British Columbia (1991), among other books. Hugh J.M. Johnston is an historian affiliated with Simon Fraser University. He is the author of several books including Jewels of the Qila: The Remarkable Story of an Indo-Canadian Family (UBC Press, 2011) and The Voyage of the Komagata Maru: The Sikh Challenge to Canada's Colour Bar (UBC Press, 1989).
Illustrations and Maps
How the Squamish Remember George Vancouver / Louis Miranda and Philip Joe
Introduction / Robin Fisher and Hugh Johnston
1 James Cook and the European Discovery of Polynesia / Ben Finney
2 Myth and Reality: The Theoretical Geography of Northwest America from Cook to Vancouver / Glyndwr Williams
3 Vancouver’s Survey Methods and Surveys / Andrew David
4 Vancouver’s Chronometers / Alun C. Davies
5 A Notable Absence: The Lateness and Lameness of Russian Discovery and Exploration in the North Pacific, 1639-1803 / James R. Gibson
6 Nootka Sound and the Beginnings of Britain’s Imperialism of Free Trade / Alan Frost
7 Seduction before Sovereignty: Spanish Efforts to Manipulate the Natives in Their Claims to the Northwest Coast / Christon I. Archer
8 Dangerous Liaisons: Maquinna, Quadra and Vancouver in Nootka Sound, 1790-1795 / Yvonne Marshall
9 Art and Exploration: The Responses of Northwest Coast Native Artists to Maritime Explorers and Fur Traders / Victoria Wyatt
10 Kidnapped: Tuki and Huru's Involuntary Visit to Norfolk Island in 1793 / Anne Salmond
11 Banks and Menzies: Evolution of a Journal / W. Kaye Lamb
12 The Intellectual Discovery and Exploration of Polynesia / K. R. Howe
13 The Burden of Terra Australis: Experiences of Real and Imagined Lands / David Mackay
Appendices: Vancouver’s Instruments, Charts, and Drawings / Andrew David
Receive the latest UBC Press news, including events, catalogues, and announcements.Subscribe to our newsletter now
Read past newsletters