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Jim McDowell collection
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Adaptation of central part of Carrasco’s Carta que comprehende…, 1791, showing approximate route of exploration southeast along the western shore of the Gran Canal from Punta de San Leonardo (near Quallicum Beach) to Punta y Bajo de Santa Saturnina (East Point of Saturna Island).

Includes anchorages at: Punta de San Leonardo, Rio de las Grullas (French Creek), and Punta de Gaviola [not Gaviota] (Point Gabriola). Also note exploration of both entrances of Boca de Wenthuysen (Nanaimo Harbour) and see following close-up of this location.

Adapted photocopy of the central portion of Carrasco’s Carta que comprehende . . . , 1791, showing the approximate route of exploration northwest along the eastern shore of the Gran Canal from Punta de San Rafael (near White Rock and Boundary Bay) to Isla de San Ignacio (Thormanby Islands).

Note: Isla de Zapeda (Point Roberts); four mouths of a sensed but unseen large river; two anchorages off Islas de Langara (Point Grey); the approach to First Narrows entrance into Burrard Inlet; the location of BOCA DE FLORIDA BLANCA, which these explorers believed was the most probable entrance to the Northwest Passage; locations of Islas de Apodaca and Bocas del Carmelo (islands and entrances to Howe Sound); anchorage at Rio de la Aguada (Chapman Creek).

Author’s adaptation of northwestern part of Carrasco’s Carta que comprehende…, 1791, showing approximate extent of exploration at head of Gran Canal between Isla de Texada (Texada Island) and Punta de Lazo de la Vega (Point Lazo).

Five prominent headlands were observed which included Isla de Campo Alange (Cape Mudge), and a probable canal was sighted in the distance, which these explorers believed might be a second possible entrance to the Northwest Passage, but they did not have time to investigate it.

Author’s adaptation of photocopy of Carrasco’s chart Plano del Archipielago de Clayocuat…, 1791, showing exploration routes taken in what was then known as “Puerto Narváez” (Clayoquot Sound) by Narváez (continuous line) and Juan Pantoja (broken line) May 10–20, 1791.

This was the first comprehensive European chart of the entire sound.

The Library of Congress, which has an atlas containing the original map, attributes authorship to “Eliza or a cartographer working under the direction of Eliza, likely José María Narváez or Juan Carrasco.” Although Wagner credits Juan Pantoja, the historical record shows Narváez and Carrasco did most of the work. Pantoja might have added finishing touches during the twenty-one days his fellow pilots explored the Gran Canal later. The handwriting is Carrasco’s, not Pantoja’s. Although the map is often ascribed to Narváez, it is not in his handwriting either.

Author’s adaptation of small portion of Carrasco’s Carta que comprehende…, 1791, showing the route of José Narváez’s reconnaissance around Isla de Masarredo (Nootka Island) in Puerto de San Lorenzo de Nuca (Nootka Sound) aboard the schooner Santa Saturnina in April, 1791.

Although Indigenous people were accustomed to navigating this waterway by canoe, this was the first time a European mariner ventured through the narrow, treacherous passage in a sailing vessel.

Enlarged close-up of small portion of Carrasco’s working chart for Carta que comprehende . . . , 1791, showing notation islas bajas y anegadas (“low and flooded islands”) in the alluvial flood plain of what is now the dyked and built-up Fraser River delta.

Although this notation is not found on Carrasco’s official final chart, it would suggest that these mariners probed one or more mouths of the large river, recognized that this swampy area existed, and decided it would be too difficult and time-consuming to explore. Consequently, Narváez and Carrasco seem to have been the first European mariners to sight and investigate the entrance of this large river.

Enlargement and adaptation of a small portion of José Narváez’s chart Carta esferica que comprehende los interiors . . . Año de 1791 (1-05), which represented his original naming of places during the first European reconnaissance of the Southern Gulf Islands, June 14–24, 1791 and shows the approximate route followed by two vessels: Santa Saturnina and its longboat.

(N) indicates Narváez’s route on the Santa Saturnina when the two vessels sailed separately. Locations in order of encounter: (13) Puerto de Cordoba [Victoria Harbour]; (14) Boca Canal de Lopez [Haro Strait]; (15) Islas de Sallas (Zayas) [Pender Islands]; (16) Bocas de Bazan [entrance to Swartz Bay and Captain Passage near Prevost Island]; (A) powerful whirlpool; (29) [Islas de Patos, Sucia, and Mal Abrigo]; (33) Archiepiélagos de San Juan [San Juan Islands]; (34) Punta de San Gil [Doughty Point] and Islas de Lemus [Waldron Island].

Jim McDowell collection

  • RBSC-ARC-1811
  • Collection
  • [201-?]

Collection consists of documents and maps that supported the findings in McDowell's book, Uncharted Waters: The Explorations of Jose Narvaez (1768-1840), published in 2015 by Ronsdale Press, Vancouver, BC.

All items in this collection are photocopies. The dates of the originals fall between 1788 and 1830. When available, information about the locations of the originals is specified in the file-level description.

From McDowell: "One of the least appreciated, but potentially most important set of historical documents in [RBSC] are those related to the overlooked Spanish navigator Jose Maria Narvaez (1768-1840), the first European mariner to explore the central and northern parts of what we now call the Salish Sea in 1791 -- one year before the famous captains Dionisio Alcala-Galiano, Cayetano Valdes y Bazan, and George Vancouver investigated the same inland sea. Although Narvaez's remarkable achievements and contributions were largely ignored, overlooked, or minimized until 1998, a more accurate assessment is emerging, and it has been supported significantly by the documentary information in [RBSC]."

Official, final draft of Juan Carrasco’s Carta que comprehende los interiors y veril de la costo desde las 48° latitude N. hasta los 50° examinados excrulosamente por el Teniente de Navio de la Real Armada Don Franscisco Eliza…en este año de 1791. [MN 3-E-1 (13)].

High-definition photographic copy of official, final draft.

Note: This high-definition copy of Carrasco’s Carta que comprehende . . . was displayed publicly for the first time in the Salish Sea region by Jim McDowell at Malaspina University-College, Nanaimo, BC on September 29, 2016.

Photocopy of Gonzolo López de Haro’s chart Plano del Estrecho de Fuca, 1790 drafted for Manuel Quimper, showing the strait was closed except for one channel (Canal de López de Haro).

Note locations of Puerto de Cordoba (Victoria Harbour) nearby this channel, and Puerto de Quadra (Discovery Bay) southeast across the strait. Also note Puerto de Fidalgo directly north of Puerto de Quadra, which was sighted independently by Carrasco and inspired his subsequent exploration with Narváez in 1791.

Photocopy of inset on Juan Carrasco’s Carta que comprehende…, 1791 showing details of Puerto de la Santa Cruz de Nuca (the small harbour at the outpost of Cala de los Amigos or Friendly Cove)

A-Battery on St. Michael Island
B-Commander’s house
C-Captain of soldiers house
D-Crew’s quarters
E-Sargents’ house
F-Hospital
G-Warehouse of frigate’s stores
H-Bakery
Y- Carpenter and blacksmith
J-Commander’s orchard
K-Captain of the crew
L-Trail to the lake
M-Beach

Photocopy of Narváez’s Plano del territorio de la Alta California…, 1830, which is the earliest map of Mexican lands between Establecimiento Ruso (Fort Ross) in the north and Mission San Miguel in the south.

Land west of the line along the coastal range of mountains had been explored; the geography to the east was largely hypothetical, based on reports of other explorers and travellers.

Note: the vast Cienegas o Tulares (Marshes of Tules) - seasonal wetlands that frequently covered the Mexican province's large central valley basin with a huge lake that covered an area of more than 1,813 square kilometres, making it the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River.

Two photocopy versions of Carrasco’s chart Plano del Archipielago de Nictinac ó de Carrasco en la Isla de Quadra y Vancuber en la costa No. de America, c. 1792, showing exploration route taken in Boca Carrasco (Barkley Sound) by Narváez from May 21 to June 10, 1791 in command of the Santa Saturnina.

Although Crosse attributed the chart to Narváez, it was probably drafted for him by Carrasco, or it was produced jointly. The notations are in Carrasco’s handwriting. It appears to be a final chart because it contains many more details than two earlier preliminary charts which were probably drawn by Narváez based on his explorations of this waterway in both 1789 and 1791. The first of the two charts contained in this packet shows some place names, numbers for soundings, a clearly marked entrance route, and the remaining course indicated by letters presented alphabetically to show the order in which sites were visited, anchors to show probable stopovers, and squares for Aboriginal settlements. The second chart was adapted by McDowell, 2015, to show the complete probable route. This was the first European chart of the entire sound. Narváez apparently made first contact with Indigenous peoples living at the site he named Fondo del Vanado (“locale of the deer”).