the lingering hope of discovering a northwest passage; the British desire of finding water communication from the Pacific to the great lakes; the French passion for knowledge; the policy of Americans to investigate their outlying possessions; all conspired to cause more frequent and more thorough examinations of these waters even before 1846, than of any similarly situated waters in any part of the globe.
On the Atlantic coast, as by degrees geographical knowledge was extended, the belief in the existence of a northwest passage gradually tottered to its fall; but myths die hard; and the possibility of such a passage being found from the Pacific side held firm sway until almost a hundred years ago. Indeed it is common knowledge that in 1745 the British Parliament offered a reward of 20,000 for its discovery, and one of the objects of Captain Cook's third expedition was to seek it out.
On Sunday the 22nd March, 1778, Captain Cook, the first European of whom we have any authentic record, discovered the southern entrance of the strait of Juan de Fuca which he named Cape Flattery, because as he states in his Voyage, there "appeared a small opening which flattered us with the hopes of finding an harbour".
Unfortunately he was unable to examine this opening, as owing to a heavy gale having arisen he was obliged to stand out to sea, and so missed the opportunity of making a discovery which would have added lustre to a name even as great as his.
It may be objected that Juan de Fuca, the old Greek pilot had preceded Cook by almost two hundred years, and that he was "the first and original" discoverer of Cape Flattery and the Strait of Fuca. I do not at this time intend to examine his story as preserved to us in Michael Lock's note in Purchas, His Pilgrimes. The subject is gone into very fully in Bancroft's History of the North West Coast, Vol. I., pp. 70-81, and after a minute examination the conclusion is reached that the alleged voyage is a fiction, pure and simple. I accept the view of the late Elwood Evans, who in his History of the Pacific North West, says:
No record is preserved in Spain