The Coveted Pacific Coast

Russian, British and Spanish Plans

Plans for a British Colony at Nootka

View Multimedia - Changing Boundaries

Caption: View Multimedia - Changing Boundaries

The Russians were not the only people to harbour imperial ambitions in the Pacific. The British had taken action in Australia when they founded Port Jackson in January 1788, and they also planned to settle on the northwest coast of North America, not only so that they would have a home port for English merchant ships, but also because they had major geostrategic designs: to create British hegemony over the whole of northern North America from the Atlantic to the Pacific!

In 1789 the British government prepared an impressive expedition to found a colony at Nootka. The exploration vessel HMS Discovery was to go to the Pacific escorted by the HMS Gorgon, a large, 44-gun frigate. In Hawaii, they would meet up with HMS Sirius, a 28-gun frigate. From there, the three ships would sail together all the way to Vancouver Island where they would establish a small naval base in the spring of 1791. At the same time, the Governor General of Canada was to organize an overland expedition to the Pacific coast from Montreal - something that had never yet been done - to establish a transcontinental link with the expedition that had left from England. However, this ambitious British project was to be short-lived.