Author Tags: 1700-1800, Spanish

Accompanied by experienced pilots Lopez de Haro and Juan Carrasco, Manuel Quimper was accorded two months to survey the largely uncharted northern and southern shores of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. He did so in the British fur-trading ship Princess Royal, confiscated by the Spanish in 1789 and renamed Princesa Real. His charts and his report of Haro Strait, now in the Archivo Historico Nacional in Madrid, encouraged the Spanish to make further explorations. While anchored in Puerto Quimper (Dungeness Bay) in Washington State, he became the first European to see Mt. Baker.

Upon leaving Nootka Sound on 31 May 1790, Quimper went to Opitsat where he encouraged Chief Maquinna to make a return to Nootka, and he also charted Clayoquot Sound. According to Grant Keddie, author of Songhees Pictorial (Royal B.C. Museum, 2003), Quimper anchored outside Sooke Inlet, which he called Puerta de Revillagigedo, on June 18, 1790. He traded copper for seal-otter skins, recorded the harvesting and trading of camas bulbs and witnessed three canoe burials. Here Quimper observed approximately 500 Indians who dressed somewhat differently from Indians on the western edge of Vancouver Island. Their cloaks included “the hair of sea otters and seals, and gull and duck feathers. Their hats are not of pyramidal form… but like those the Chinese wear in Macao.” In June Quimper also reached Puerto de San Juan (San Juan Bay) and Rada de Valdes y Bazan (Royal Roads), then crossed Juan de Fuca Strait to the San Juan Islands where he mapped two Dungeness villages and claimed them for Spain on July 4, 1790. He named his anchorage Bahia de Quimper (New Dungeness Bay) on July 8. He also charted Port Discovery and Neah Bay. Quimper set sail for Nootka Sound on 18 July, discovering Puerto de Cordova (Esquimault Harbour). The Coast Salish word “es-whoy-malth,” meaning “a shoaling place,” has taken precedence over the name Puerto de Cordova, after it was anglicized to “Ess-KWY-malt”.

Quimper claimed the present-day Victoria area for Spain in July of 1790. He proceeded south again to the Olympic Peninsula where he anchored in Freshwater Bay near the Elwha River on July 21, 1790. In his journal he described being met by Indians in two canoes who directed the Spanish to fresh water and gave them salmonberries. He ‘christened’ Mount Baker in Washington State, naming it “La Gran Montagna Carmelita” because it reminded him of the flowing white robes of the Carmelites. It was renamed by Captain Vancouver in 1792 after Lieutenant Joseph Baker who spotted the peak from the Discovery.

In early August Quimper returned to Nootka but was unable to enter the harbour for six days due to fog. He returned to Monterey on September 1. Joined by Fidalgo in the San Carlos, they reached San Blas on November 13. Dates of Quimper’s birth and death are unknown. His chart is in Archivo Historico Nacional in Madrid.


Spanish Explorations in the Strait of Juan de Fuca (Santa Ana, California, 1933). Edited by Henry R. Wagner.

Quimper's journal is housed in National Archives of Madrid.

[BCBW 2004] "1700-1800" "Spanish"