Captain George Vancouver

                          credit: Geoff Noble, Ganymede Music


Of Captain George Vancouver this tale now I will tell:

Who sailed the seven seas, the seas he knew so well

Who sailed the seven seas in times of peace and war

But best he is remembered along our northwest shore.


A young man of only fifteen years, he sailed with Captain Cook

A naval seaman volunteer set out to learn so much

With William Wales,[1] his teacher, he learned the stars and seas

The winds the sails, the storms and gales, from London to Hawaii.


With Cook, he saw the northwest coast and into Nootka Sound

With maps of Kingston Harbour[2] came promotion from London town

With Willoughby[3] that master and Gardiner[4], he sailed the seas

In 1790 commander of his own ship Discovery.


His surveys of the northwest coast began in ninety-two:

The Georgia Strait and Puget Sound, in honour of King and crew

Mount Baker, Rainier, Juan de Fuca, Port Townsend and Point Grey

Burrard’s Channel, the Howe Sound and Malaspina. (“eye-ay”)


To navigate the tides and rocks along the island shores

Took knowledge and bravery with ship and sail and oars

But map he did, with charts to prove, as we can see today

The Charlottes to Alaska and south to Hawaii. (“ha-wye-ay”)


At Nootka Sound, with Quadra, he kept the status quo

To seek the Northwest Passage but was stopped by ice and snow

He named our shores and waterways, and their names can still be heard

In the great voyage of Discovery in the reign of George the Third.


Now his body lies at Petersham[5] in a lonely common grave

But his memory still lingers in the place names that he gave

Vancouver’s Isle, Vancouver town, the Fort south of the parallel

In honour of this Norfolk man who served his country well.


[1] One of the foremost astronomers of the day

[2] This marks the second period of his career: with fighting ships in the Caribbean where he became an officer.

[3] Sir Nesbit Willoughby, later Rear Admiral, distinguished in the war with France after the Revolution

[4] Commodore Alan Gardner, who became a member of the Board of Admiralty and was Vancouver’s patron.

[5] In the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, UK