Britain, Canada and the North Pacific: Maritime Enterprise and Dominion, 1778–1914: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Britain, Canada and the North Pacific: Maritime Enterprise and Dominion, 1778–1914

1st Edition

By Barry M. Gough


328 pages

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Hardback: 9780860789390
pub: 2004-11-19

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From the time of Cook, the British and their Canadian successors were drawn to the Northwest coast of North America by possibilities of trade in sea otter and the wish to find a 'northwest passage'. The studies collected here trace how, under the influences of the Royal Navy and British statecraft, the British came to dominate the area, with expeditions sent from London, Bombay and Macau, and the Canadian quest from overland. The North West Company came to control the trade of the Columbia River, despite American opposition, and British sloop diplomacy helped overcome Russian and Spanish resistance to British aspirations. Elsewhere in the Americas, the British promoted trans-Pacific trade with China, harvested British Columbia forests, conveyed specie from western Mexico, and established the South America naval station. The flag followed trade and vice versa; empire was both formal (at Vancouver Island) and informal (as in California or Mexico). This book features individuals such as James Cook, William Bolts, Peter Pond, and Sir Alexander Mackenzie. It is also an account of the pressure that corporations placed on the British state in shaping the emerging world of trade and colonization in that distant ocean and its shores, and of the importance of sea-power in the creation of modern Canada.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; James Cook and British Enterprise in the North Pacific: The Northwest coast in late 18th century British expansion; New empires of trade and territory in the time of Malaspina; Pacific exploration in the 1780s and 1790s; James Cook and the origins of the maritime fur trade; India-based expeditions of trade and discovery in the North Pacific in the late 18th century; William Bolts and the Austrian attempt to establish an eastern empire; The North West Company's 'adventure to China'; Peter Pond and Athabasca: fur trade, discovery, and empire; British-Russian rivalry and the search for the Northwest Passage in the early 19th century; The Royal Navy and the Oregon crisis, 1844-46; Forests and sea power: a Vancouver Island economy, 1778-1875; Possessing Meares Island. Pax Britannica: South America, Canada, And The Pacific: Sea power and South America: the 'Brazils' or South American station of the Royal Navy, 1808-37; Specie conveyance from the west coast of Mexico in British warships, c.1820-70: an aspect of the Pax Britannica; The records of the Royal Navy's Pacific station; Canada and the North Pacific, 1871-1914: problems of a lion's cub in an open den; The Royal Navy and Canadian dominion; Sea power and British North America: the maritime foundations of the Canadian state; Pax Britannica: peace, force and world power. Index.

About the Author

Barry M. Gough is Professor of History at Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General