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Subject > Armed Forces > Naval Forces and Merchant Navy

Date > 1700 > 1780-1789 > 1789

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

Trouble, and a First European Settlement

Type: Document

In 1789, a Nootka chief was killed while arguing with the Spanish about being allowed to trade with British ships in the region. Despite this and previous troubles, a decision was made to create a permanent base at Nootka, and a presidio, or Spanish frontier fort, was built and garrisoned.

Site: National Defence

Plans for a British Colony at Nootka

Type: Document

Late in the 18th century, the British hoped to place a colony on the northwestern coast of North America. In 1789, plans were made for an expedition that would sail to the region, in coordination with an overland expedition from Canada.

Site: National Defence

A Relatively Peaceful Decade

Type: Document

The decade 1783-1793 was almost peaceful in North America, compared to the previous American Revolutionary War. Both Britain and the United States disbanded the majority of their armies. Only a small British garrison stayed in North America, backed by the Royal Navy at Halifax.

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 Worrying British Presence

Type: Document

In the summer of 1789, Ensign Martínez, the commander of a Spanish expedition on the northwest Pacific coast, built a military post at Nootka. At this point, a British merchant ship arrived with instructions to build a British post. Tempers flared and Martínez seized all the British ships.

Site: National Defence

Spanish Steps to Guarantee Sovereignty

Type: Document

After finding European ships at Nootka in 1787, early in 1789 the Viceroy of New Spain ordered two ships to sail from Mexico and build a temporary post to ensure Spanish sovereignty in the region. Upon arrival, merchant ships were found again, including one with a British crew.

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

Continued Spanish Exploration

Type: Document

In 1789, a Spanish naval expedition under scientist Captain Alejandro Malaspina left Spain for the Pacific. His mission was to study the strength of other European powers in the Pacific, and to carry out a detailed exploration of the northwest coast of North America.

Site: National Defence