Vancouver Island HistoryIndigenous People
Numerous indigenous peoples have lived on Vancouver Island for thousands of years including the Kwakwaka'wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth, and Coast Salish. The traditional territory of the Kwakwaka'wakw includes Vancouver Island’s northern regions and parts of the British Columbia mainland. The Nuu-chah-nulth’s territory spans from northwestern Vancouver Island to the south and west coast. The Coast Salish territory covers the lower eastern area of Vancouver Island. Vancouver Island First Nations’ cultures are tied to the abundant natural resources of the area and their histories are recounted by their oral tradition.
European exploration of Vancouver Island began in 1774, when the Spanish ship, the Santiago, was dispatched due to rumours that Russians were trading furs in the area. The Santiago was followed by Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra in 1775 but neither actually landed on what is now known as Vancouver Island.
In 1789 Esteban José Martínez built Fort San Miguel on a small offshore islet near Yuquot. Fort San Miguel would be the first and only Spanish settlement what is known as present day Canada. Spain began seizing ships from Britain which nearly resulted in war. The two countries resolved the situation peacefully with the 1792 Nootka Convention that recognized each other's rights to the Vancouver Island region.Captain George Vancouver oversaw British activities in the Vancouver Island region and the island ultimately was named after him. Vancouver had intended the island to be named after both him and Juan Francisco Quadra. However, as Spanish influence in the area declined over the next 25 years, the Colony of Vancouver Island’s founding in 1849 gave full official status to the name.
The Hudson's Bay Company founded Vancouver Island’s first British settlement in 1843 and called it Fort Camosack. It was later renamed Fort Victoria and it became a key post during 1858’s Fraser Canyon Gold Rush. The growing town was incorporated as Victoria in 1862. Victoria was named the Colony of Vancouver Island’s capital and kept the status when it was amalgamated with the British Columbia mainland in 1866.