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N.A.: Canada & Arctic

North America: Canada & the Arctic

QUIMPER, Manuel. Manuscript chart of Clayoquot Sound, north of Nootka on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Canada. Spain: ca 1792.

QUIMPER, Manuel. Manuscript chart of Clayoquot Sound, north of Nootka on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Canada. Spain: ca 1792.


Single sheet, float-mounted and framed (18 x 21 4/8 inches). A UNIQUE MANUSCRIPT CHART OF THE CLAYOQUOT SOUND, pen and ink on paper.


Manuel Quimper was part of Francesco de Eliza's expedition between 1790 and 1791 sent to occupy Nootka Sound for Spain, during a particularly tense clash between British and Spanish forces, who had both taken interest in the western coast of North America. The two countries had simultaneously embarked on scientific and trading missions in the wilderness. Jostling for territory had led to inevitable friction between the two parties at Nootka Sound, culminating in the seizure of British ships and property by the ebullient Spanish captain, Jose Esteban Martinez. James Colnett, a British captain, arrived at Nootka Sound in 1789 and notified the Spanish commander that he had come "under authority of the King of England with orders to take possession of Nootka, construct a fort, establish a factory, and plant a colony." In consequence, the Spaniards arrested Colnett and his officers and seized his cargo. Upon his release he proceeded to England and raised an uproar about his treatment which almost precipitated a war between England and Spain. This was the celebrated "Nootka Sound Controversy," one of the most famous incidents in the history of the Northwest. There followed a series of treaties and agreements related to the territories surrounding Nootka Sound. The preliminary agreement made on July 4, 1790 stated that settlements already made by subjects of either nation for carrying on commerce with the natives would not be disturbed. Captain George Vancouver was then sent by the English to Nootka to work out the details with the Spanish envoy, the Spanish captain Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra.    

Manuel Quimper left Nootka in May 1790, at the height of the conflict, to explore southward. His ship was the Princesa Real, previously known as the Princess Royal before it was confiscated from James Colnett's associate, Thomas Hudson. Quimper spent ten days in Clayoquot Sound, the subject of this finely drawn chart, and then sailed into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. He paid particular attention to possible harbors, charting and claiming possession in all he found. Quimper made a number of important discoveries, including Port Discovery on the Olympia Peninsula, Washington State. However, he missed Admiralty Inlet, the entrance to Puget Sound, which was found on July 5, 1790 by another expedition led by Juan Carrasco, who thought it was a bay and named it Ensenada de Caamano. It was to be discovered as the entrance to Puget Sound and named Admiralty Inlet by Vancouver only two years later.


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