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The Secret Coast Expedition 2019


My big project for 2019 is The Secret Coast Expedition!

With the support of presenting sponsors the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and the Spanish Embassy in Canada, my adventure partner (and husband) David Gilbert and I will spend a month working our way down the wild, and mostly uninhabited outer coast of Vancouver Island. Read on – or check out this short video to find out more:

The goal of this project is to investigate the history of the early contacts between the Nuu-chah-nulth inhabitants and the very first foreign visitors here. Most people think of Canada’s colonial history in terms of the English and the French – but here on the west coast, the Spanish were actually the first explorers to arrive here (in 1774) and to make contact with the indigenous people.

The Americans also played an important role. They were in on the fur trading, of course, but gradually came into conflict with the indigenous people. One of their ships was captured by the Mowachaht Chief Maquinna, who enslaved two of its crew members for over two years. Another American ship, the Tonquin, was sacked by Tla-o-qui-aht in 1811 (largely in retaliation for their village previously being burned to the ground by the Americans) – a final conflict that, for the next half-century, ended foreign explorations into this part of the world.

Not many people know about this aspect of the history of the Pacific Northwest. On The Secret Coast Expedition, we will hike and kayak along the remote shores of Vancouver Island, and visit the mostly abandoned sites where these historic events took place. The ultimate product of our adventure will be a book that I will both write and photograph (along the lines of my best-seller The Wild Edge). Find out more on The Secret Coast Expedition website, or follow me on Twitter to stay updated.