HISTORICAL EVENTS THAT TOOK PLACE ON THIS DAY IN CANADA
Captain Vancouver exploring Nootka Sound Territory
Spain and Britain Approaching War
Nootka is a quiet harbour on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It does not get into the news often now, but in 1790 Nootka nearly caused a war that could have involved Britain, Spain, France, Holland, and Prussia.
Captains Cook and Vancouver, while exploring the coast looking for the Northwest Passage, had visited the beautiful ice-free harbour of Nootka Sound. The Indians were friendly and had bountiful supplies of sea-otter skins which they were willing to trade. Soon other British ships began to arrive and a profitable fur trade with China developed.
In those days Spain claimed most of the Pacific coast of North America, and had an important base at San Francisco. When the Spanish authorities became aware of what was going on, they sent a naval squadron to Nootka which destroyed the base and took possession of the British ships. On January 4, 1790, the British chargé d'affaires at Madrid heard what had happened and sent word to London. Spain added fuel to the fire by presenting a stiff note to Britain ordering British ships to keep out of the area.
Spain felt confident about challenging Britain at this time because she had an alliance with France. Britain had a similar alliance with Holland which immediately offered ships to strengthen the British navy in case of war. Prussia offered to send troops, providing Britain would join Prussia in an attack on Russia. This offer was refused.
The Spanish action s infuriated the British Government, and Parliament voted two million pounds to send a fleet under the dreaded Admiral Howe to attack Spain. Just at this time the French Revolution broke out, and France was lost to Spain as an ally. Spain then backed down quickly, and offered to pay reparations for the ships that had been taken, and to share Vancouver Island equally with Britain. Strangely enough, the United States missed this agreement when she later bought Spanish possessions in North America. If she hadn't, half of Vancouver Island might belong to the United States today (sec March 23).
OTHER NOTABLE EVENTS ON THIS DAY IN CANADIAN HISTORY
-1817 Stagecoach service began between Kingston and York, Ontario; the fare was $18.
-1830 Upper Canada College was opened at York.