Yuquot, British Columbia
|Yuquot, British Columbia|
|National Historic Site of Canada|
Three Nuu-chah-nulth children in Yuquot, 1930s
Yuquot, or Friendly Cove, is a small settlement of around 25 people, located on Nootka Island in Nootka Sound, just west of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. It was the summer home of Chief Maquinna and the Mowachaht/Muchalaht (Nuu-chah-nulth) people for generations, housing approximately 1,500 natives in 20 traditional wooden longhouses. The name means "Wind comes from all directions" in Nuu-chah-nulth.
The community is located within the Strathcona Regional District but like all Indian Reserve communities is not governed by nor represented in the regional district. The Mowchaht/Muchalaht First Nations are rather part of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, which unites the governments of the indigenous communities of the Island's West Coast.
Captain James Cook's visit to Nootka Sound in 1778 was the first known European sighting of Yuquot. A Spanish naval post, Santa Cruz de Nuca, protected by the cannon of Fort San Miguel, the only Spanish settlement ever established in Canada, was maintained there between 1789 and 1795, with Nootka Sound, usually referred to simply as "Nootka", becoming an important focal point for English, Spanish, and American Maritime Fur Trader and explorers. Yuquot was also the scene of the Nootka Incident, which nearly led to war between Spain and Britain. Negotiations in Europe calmed the situation and led to the first Nootka Convention. Each nation sent a commissioner to Nootka Sound in order to carry out the terms of the Nootka Convention and related diplomatic issues. Arriving in 1792, George Vancouver was commissioner for Britain and Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra for Spain. Quadra also served as the commandant of the Spanish settlement at Yuquot, hosting Vancouver and his crew. Quadra and Vancouver had to engage in diplomatic negotiations due to the Nootka Convention's vagueness and lack of detail over how it was to be implemented. In addition both commissioners had been given incomplete, differing, and confused instructions by their governments. They negotiated for months but in the end failed to reach an agreement. The matter was sent back to the British and Spanish governments. The primary problem was a differing interpretation of the Nootka Convention. Vancouver's position, as instructed, was that the entire Spanish settlement was to be turned over to him. Quadra's position was that there was nothing left to turn over in accord with the Nootka Convention, but he made various offers, such as turning over a small cove in Nootka Sound, where John Meares had built the North West America in 1788, or turning over the entire settlement in exchange if Britain agreed to set the boundary between Spanish and British territory at the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Chief Maquinna played a role in the negotiations, identifying the cove where Meares had built his vessel, swearing that no land had ever been sold to the British and that the Spanish were the rightful occupants at Yuquot—and that only on the condition that the site be restored to his people as soon as possible. Unable to reach an agreement, Vancouver and Quadra left in late 1792 and the settlement at Yuquot remained under Spanish control until 1795, when the terms of the third Nootka Convention, calling for the "mutual abandonment" of Nootka, were carried out, after which the site was reoccupied by the Maquinna and the Mowachaht people.
John R. Jewitt, an English blacksmith, was held there for three years 1803-1805 as Maquinna's slave, following the capture of the trading ship Boston and the deaths of the captain and all but one other crew members. Jewitt's memoirs form an important record of Yuquot at that period.
- "Yuquot". BC Geographical Names. http://apps.gov.bc.ca/pub/bcgnws/names/25332.html.
- "Yuquot Indian Reserve 1". BC Geographical Names. http://apps.gov.bc.ca/pub/bcgnws/names/34083.html.