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Subject > Armed Forces > Naval Forces and Merchant Navy

Date > 1700 > 1770-1779 > 1775

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

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

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

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

A Search for the Northwest Passage

Type: Document

Eighteenth century Russian maps showing Alaska as an island, and the report of the Arctic Ocean by explorer Samuel Hearne in 1771 prompted Britain to send Captain James Cook in 1776 to search for and claim sovereignty over any Northwest Passage linking the Atlantic and Pacific.

Site: National Defence

Renewed Spanish ventures

Type: Document

Following up from the Spanish expedition of 1774, the Viceroy of New Spain sent two ships north along the coast in 1775. The intent was twofold: to make landings on the coast so that this region could be claimed as Spanish territory, and to identify any Russian settlements.

Site: National Defence

The Crossing

Type: Document

British troops crossing the Atlantic during the 18th and 19th centuries were never comfortable. Transports were very crowded, with men sleeping 4 to a bunk. If bad weather prevented exercise on deck, epidemics were a real possibility. By sail, the trip took 2 or 3 months.

Site: National Defence

Governed by the Military

Type: Document

Also in 1697, the British colony in Newfoundland began a long period where its governor would be the commander of the British Royal Navy squadron in local waters. This pattern of military government was not unusual - a similar military government was in place in Nova Scotia.

Site: National Defence