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Subject > Armed Forces > Naval Forces and Merchant Navy

Date > 1700 > 1770-1779

The Military Art of the American Northwest

Type: Document

War in the Pacific Northwest centred around the canoe, which could be up to 20 metres long. Flotillas of canoes would attack enemy villages, hoping to capture prisoners to keep as slaves. Coastal forts of cedar logs were to be found, used to help control and tax maritime trade.

Site: National Defence

Fears of French Fleets

Type: Document

France's 1778 entry into the American Revolutionary War spread fear in several places. The Maritimes worried about a French fleet disrupting shipping in the Gulf of St. Lawrence or attacking Newfoundland. In Quebec, officials worried about Canadian reaction to a French landing.

Site: National Defence

A Series of Amerindian Nations

Type: Document

During the eighteenth century, the northwest Pacific coast was home to a series of Amerindian nations, including the Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, Nootka and Salish. These were maritime cultures - excellent sailors and fishermen who depended on the sea's resources

Site: National Defence

A Chance For French Revenge

Type: Document

Isolated diplomatically, Britain began to suffer greatly when other European powers entered American Revolutionary War after 1778. France, followed by Spain and the Netherlands, threw the British on the defensive. British colonies and fleets world-wide suffered capture or defeat.

Site: National Defence

Ships of Cook's expedition at Nootka in 1778

Type: Image

This engraving is based on a drawing by John Webber, the official artist of Captain Cook's third Pacific voyage of 1776-1779. HMS Resolution and HMS Discovery are shown anchored in Ship Cove off Nootka Sound. The expedition paused there in April 1778 for a refit. A series of astronomical observations were made from a temporary observatory on shore. The tents and instruments of the observatory can be seen at left. Several Nootka dugouts can be seen, filled with locals observing the visitors. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence

A Russian Challenge

Type: Document

From 1725, Imperial Russia challenged the exclusive Spanish interest in the Pacific. With voyages of exploration, trade and small-scale settlement, the Russians established a presence in Alaska. The Spanish feared they would move south into northern California, too.

Site: National Defence

Conflict with the Locals

Type: Document

In 1775, during an exploration of the Pacific coast, seven Spanish sailors were massacred by Amerindians who had pretended friendship. After the disaster, which took place in the present-day Washington state, the Spanish sailed north to the 58th Parallel, claiming the coast for Spain.

Site: National Defence

Plan of a gunboat built during 1774

Type: Image

Such armed boats were prevalent on the Great Lakes and would usually be manned by the Provincial Marine. The plan shows only the bow section of the vessel, with the slide for a gun carriage at centre. Also to be seen is the mast, which would allow the boat to be sailed when movement over long distances was needed. In action, oars would often be used. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence

North to Alaska

Type: Document

Bad weather along the British Columbia coast kept Captain Cook's 1778 expedition out of sight of land until he reached Alaska, preventing confirmation that no Northwest Passage existed south of Alaska.

Site: National Defence

The Royal Navy

Type: Document

As an island state, Britain gave priority to its navy. The Admiralty (the appointed committee of admirals which made all strategic decisions) governed hundreds of ships worldwide. The Royal Navy used its bases in Canada to help control the Northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Site: National Defence