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Subject > Armed Forces > Military Intelligence and Espionage

Date > 1700

Statue of explorer Pierre Gaultier de La Vérendrye

Type: Image

There is no reliable likeness known of Pierre Gaultier de Varennes et de La Vérendrye (1685-1749), the officer who was one of the great explorers of the Canadian west. This statue at the Quebec National Assembly is possibly the best known depiction of him. Here he symbolically looks to the far horizon.

Site: National Defence

La Vérendrye's Sons Continue the Search

Type: Document

Louis-Joseph and François La Vérendrye ventured even farther than their father, reaching as far south as Nebraska and as far west as Wyoming. They were the first Europeans to record seeing the Rocky Mountains in 1743.

Site: National Defence

Map of La Vérendrye’s western explorations

Type: Image

Pierre Gaultier de Varennes et de La Vérendrye (1685-1749) charted large areas of the Prairies during the 1730s and 1740s, unsuccessfully searching for the fabled Northwest Passage that linked the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Site: National Defence

Conflict with the Locals

Type: Document

In 1775, during an exploration of the Pacific coast, seven Spanish sailors were massacred by Amerindians who had pretended friendship. After the disaster, which took place in the present-day Washington state, the Spanish sailed north to the 58th Parallel, claiming the coast for Spain.

Site: National Defence

North to Alaska

Type: Document

Bad weather along the British Columbia coast kept Captain Cook's 1778 expedition out of sight of land until he reached Alaska, preventing confirmation that no Northwest Passage existed south of Alaska.

Site: National Defence

La Vérendrye brothers, 1743

Type: Image

Here we see brothers Louis-Joseph and François de La Vérendrye, both cadets in the Compagnies franches de la Marine of Canada, who set out to discover the 'Western Sea' and reached the Rocky Mountains in January 1743. (Library and Archives Canada, C-070247)

Site: National Defence

Early Explorations of the Northwest Coast

Type: Document

In 1774, moved by worry about the Russians, the Viceroy of New Spain ordered a Spanish frigate to sail north along the Pacific coast, mapping as it went. This first European venture into these waters encountered the Haida and Nootka nations in cautious but cordial meetings.

Site: National Defence

A Search for the Northwest Passage

Type: Document

Eighteenth century Russian maps showing Alaska as an island, and the report of the Arctic Ocean by explorer Samuel Hearne in 1771 prompted Britain to send Captain James Cook in 1776 to search for and claim sovereignty over any Northwest Passage linking the Atlantic and Pacific.

Site: National Defence

Spanish Reaction

Type: Document

The Spanish hoped to intercept Captain Cook's British expedition to the Pacific in 1778. They missed Cook, but were able to further map the northwest coast of America. In 1787, Spain renewed efforts to counter English, American and Russian traders in the region.

Site: National Defence

Vancouver and Bodega Y Quadra

Type: Document

Britain and Spain sent ships to Nootka in 1792 for negotiations. The captains, Vancouver and Bodega y Quadra, were unable to come to an agreement, but maintained good relations. Vancouver's survey proved there was no Northwest Passage on the British Columbia coast.

Site: National Defence