The Hidden Journals: Captain Vancouver & His Mapmaker by Wade Baker and Mary Tasi sheds new light on the voyages of Captain George Vancouver and Lieutenant Joseph Baker, the mapmaker on HMS Discovery. As a boater, it is hard not to be curious about Vancouver and his voyages to the Northwest Coast from 1790-1795. Many of the places we cruise to bear the names of members of this voyage of discovery and now the cities of Vancouver, Vancouver Island, and Mt. Baker now have new meaning and a personality behind them. This book breaks through a number of previously known facts about Vancouver’s voyage and starts to fill in many gaps with many new revelations.
The Hidden Journals Book Review
It is no coincidence that the co-author is Wade Baker, a First Nations descendent of Lt. Joseph Baker. His curiosity about his heritage started the authors on a journey of research into the real story of Vancouver’s voyages.
Here are a couple of points from the book to peak your interest:
- The British Admiralty sent a fast schooner to meet Vancouver before his return to England to procure his logs and reports.
- Vancouver’s original logs no longer exist. They disappeared without explanation when many other logs of the early explorations are carefully stored in British Admiralty archives.
- Captain Vancouver’s logs were edited by his brother, John Vancouver, and not him after his return. After his three-year mission and safe return, Vancouver was shunned by the Admiralty and English society. He died three years later in his early forties.
- Captain Vancouver was very effective in his respectful communication and negotiation with the indigenous people of the North Coast and Hawaii, where he spent the winters. There is a different style of writing in his logs for the description of the North Coast First Nations people. Were his logs heavily edited by the Admiralty to reflect differently on the indigenous people whose lands were taken over by England?
- Captain Vancouver blessed the marriage of Lt. Joseph Baker and Chief Capilano’s daughter. Baker fathered many children with her and later her sister whom he also married when his first wife died. When Captain Vancouver gave his permission, he suggested Lt. Baker marry a proper English woman upon his return to England.
The authors faced some resistance when they attempted to research the full story. Piece-by-piece they were able to put together the background for this story by following the oral history from both First Nations and Hawaiian sources. This appears to be the first time oral histories on Vancouver and his voyages were considered. Oral history is the way both indigenous people and the Hawaiians pass their history down, fairly accurately, from generation to generation.
The story of The Hidden Journals: Captain Vancouver & His Mapmaker is intriguing and leaves many questions still unanswered that could have legal implications. It deals very frankly with how the British Admiralty felt about the new world and its people. It sheds light on how England and the European nations truly felt about the kings and queens of Hawaii and the Chiefs of the North Coast nations. Vancouver was a very good statesman, dealing with many language and cultural challenges. His superiors at the Admiralty were not in agreement, which may support why he was shunned when he returned.
If you are intrigued by the history of the Inside Passage and the voyages of George Vancouver, you will enjoy this book.
This books is at the Roche Harbor Market and is available through the Waggoner Guide store. We will have a special for the month of September offering free shipping for those who purchase this book. Order Here. You can also call to place your order at 360-299-8500.
The Hidden Journals
Captain Vancouver & His Mapmaker
by Wade Baker & Mary Tasi