"The voyages of Cook and Vancouver heralded a vast influx ofirrepressible white men.... They brought with them their morals,ideologies, knowledge, technology, plants and animals. They alsobrought diseases, rum and guns....powers to build and powers todestroy."
Until the 1700's, the Northwest Coast of North America stoodlargely apart from the civilized world. Formidable mountain barriersand remoteness from Atlantic sea lanes kept the territory outside theorbit of emerging European empires. In the late 18th and early 19thcenturies, however, Britain, Spain, France, Russsia, and the UnitedStates vied for control of this promising new frontier.
Three of history's greatest mariners -- Sir Francis Drake,Captain James Cook, and Captain George Vancouver -- spearheaded Britishexpeditions of discovery and trade to the Northwest coast. Despitecompetition from her European and American rivals, Britains ability touse and control the sea enabled her to establish by the late 1700'sa "beachhead of empire" in the area now known as BritishColumbia.Gough shows how, by outmanoevring her Spanish rivals in a"skilful game of diplomatic chess," Britain concluded theNootka Agreement. Thus she was able to exploit her trading partnershipwith the coast Indians and cement a lucrative sea-borne commerce withthe Far East. The arrival overland of the Nor'westers and otherfur-trading groups further strengthened Britain's financial andpolitical interests in the area -- ending forever the isolation ofNorthwest America, and 'changing beyond measure the culture of itsIndian peoples.'
Distant Dominion is the first comprehensive survey toexamine Britain's motives for expeditions to this most distantfrontier of British maritime development. It is also the first to drawthe history of the coast into the general realm of Pacific history,relating its development to events in Europe, the American easternseaboard, Australia, the Falkland Islands, and China. This entertainingbook offers fresh insight into an exciting chapter of North Americanhistory.