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From Maps to Metaphors: The Pacific World of George Vancouver

From Maps to Metaphors: The Pacific World of George Vancouver (Paperback)

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Synopsis

During the summers of 1792-94, George Vancouver and the crew of the British naval ships Discovery and Chatham mapped the northwest coast of North America from Baja California to Alaska. Vancouver's voyage was the last, and longest, of the great Pacific voyages of the late eighteenth century. Taking the art and technique of distant voyaging to a new level, Vancouver eliminated the possibility of a northwest passage and his remarkably precise surveys completed the outline of the Pacific.

But to map an area is to appropriate it - to begin to bring it under control - and Vancouver's charts of the northwest coast were part of a process of economic exploitation and cultural disruption. Although he and the other great navigators of his age exercised no control over the ideas and enterprises spawned by their voyages, their names have come to symbolize the consequences of European expansion, good or bad.

From Maps to Metaphors brings to light the research on early European exploration of the Pacific and illuminates the European and Native experience. The chapters are written from a variety of perspectives and provide new insights on many aspects of Vancouver's voyages, from the technology employed to the complex political and power relationships among European explorers and the Native leadership.

While we no longer "celebrate" the arrival to the northwest coast of explorers such as Vancouver, their achievements cannot be overlooked. The charts, log books, journals, and specimens from these voyages are important sources of information and essential for the reconstruction of an image of the Pacific region and its people in the eighteenth century.

Robin Fisher is a historian and the former provost and vice president academic of Mount Royal University. He previously served as the dean of the College of Arts, Social and Health Sciences at the University of Northern British Columbia. He is the author of Vancouver's Voyage (1992); Contact and Conflict: Indian-European Relations in British Columbia, 1774-1890 (UBC Press 1974, 1992); and Duff Pattullo of British Columbia (1991), among other books. Hugh J.M. Johnston is an historian affiliated with Simon Fraser University. He is the author of several books including Jewels of the Qila: The Remarkable Story of an Indo-Canadian Family (UBC Press, 2011) and The Voyage of the Komagata Maru: The Sikh Challenge to Canada's Colour Bar (UBC Press, 1989).

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