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NOOTKA ISLAND HISTORY

Nootka, often referred to as the "Birthplace" of British Columbia, is located at the mouth of Nootka Sound just 74 air miles west of Campbell River.

In March 1778, Captain James Cook became the first European to set foot on British Columbian soil when he visited Friendly Cove on Nootka Island. While anchoring, the natives shouted "itchme nutka, itchme nutka", meaning "go around" (to Yuquot), but Cook misinterpreted their calls, believing the name of the area to be Nootka.

Yuquot, also known as Friendly Cove, was the summer home of Chief Maquinna and the Mowachaht/Muchalaht people for millennia, and retains historic significance today as the site of the first contact between Europeans and First Nations people in British Columbia.

 

A Spanish trading post, Santa Cruz de Nutka, was maintained here between 1789 and 1795, with Nootka becoming an important focal point for English, Spanish and American traders and explorers. In 1790, a dispute over the seizure of vessels almost resulted in a war between Great Britain and Spain. The settlement of the dispute ended Spain's monopoly of trade in the area and allowed for future growth. The Canadian government declared Friendly Cove a National Historic Site in 1923, with recognition of the significance of the First Nations history following in 1997.

Nootka Sound and the community of Gold River received tremendous media coverage worldwide in July 2001 when Luna the Killer Whale became a media sensation when he turned up in Nootka Sound after being separated from his pod in Puget Sound in Washington. Attempts to reunite Luna (L98) with his family were suspended, as the Mowachaht and Muchalaht First Nations believed Luna, or Tsuxit, embodied the spirit of Chief Ambrose Maquinna, who had died just days before the whale was first seen in the area.

Nootka Island is unsurpassed in mountain scenery, beauty, and wildlife. You can retrace the footsteps of B.C's early explorers, such as Captain Cook and Captain Bligh, on the beautiful pebble beach at Friendly Cove, visit the Governor General Totem and a quaint church, all only minutes from Nootka Island Lodge.

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