Vasco Núñez de Balboa
(c. 1475 – January 1519)
Jerez de los Caballeros, Badajoz Crown of Castile
Recognized for being the first European conqueror to reach the Pacific Ocean.
Núñez de Balboa helped establish the village of Darien in the Isthmus of Panama and then served as governor of that region. In 1513, he undertook an expedition in search of gold, but ended up discovering the area of the Pacific Ocean that he claimed as Spanish territory.
Juan de Fuca
(Born Ioannis Phokas) (1536- 1602)
Despite its Greek origin, this sailor sailed under the Spanish flag, under the command of King Philip II. His best-known voyage led him to the Strait of Anián, between what are now Washington State and the Province of British Columbia.
(7 November, 1728 – 14 February 1779)
He was an explorer ascribed to the British Royal Navy. His main contribution was to detail maps of the North American regions in the Pacific Ocean and then land in territories of Australia and the islands of Hawaii, thus becoming the first European to reach these areas. Cook toured Canada’s East Coast before exploring the Pacific. He passed away during one of his trips to Hawaii.
Esteban José Martínez
(c. 1742 – 1798)
He was a Spanish naval officer who carried out a number of expeditions on the Pacific coast of North America. Together with Juan José Pérez Hernández, they were the first Europeans to contact the indigenous Haida nation. In 1789 he undertook an expedition off the coast of Alaska; and the following year he decided to build a fort on the island of Nootka, which produced a conflict between the UK and Spain. He eventually gave way to Nootka’s conventions.
Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra
(May 22, 1743 – March 26, 1794)
Lima, New Spain
It was an official of the Spanish navy who sailed along the Oriental coast of North America from the Port of San Blas (Mexico) to Alaska in recognition of Russian settlements in the region. This expedition led to the realization that the Russians had no territorial power in the area and helped reclaim the Pacific Ocean coast as Spanish territory.
(c. 1756 – 29 January, 1809)
He was an official of the British Royal Navy and a pioneer in the fur trade in northwestern North America. In 1789, he formed a company with other British entrepreneurs, and commanded an expedition to locate a trading post in Nootka. Upon arrival, he found this area with a strong presence of the Spanish navy which forced the British navies to reduce their control in the area and triggered the crisis between the two powers. Meares was a very important figure in the propaganda around the political and economic power of the British Empire on the coast.
(June 22, 1757 – May 10, 1798)
King’s Lynn, England
He was an officer and explorer of the British Royal Navy, known to have led the Pacific Ocean expedition detailing the Western coast of North America, which today are known as the states of Alaska, Washington, Oregon and the Canadian Province of British Columbia. In August 1792, he met with the commissioner Bodega y Quadra in the territory of Nootka to negotiate the settlement of both powers in the area.
Charles William Barkley
(c. 1759- 16 May, 1832)
He was a fur merchant in northwestern America. His trading base was settled in Nootka for a short period for time. From there, he left to the south, exploring and naming various parts of the Pacific coast to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. In 1787, Barkley’s expedition was the first non-Indigenous ship to enter Neah Bay.
José María Narváez
(c. 1768- August 4, 1840)
He was a Spanish naval officer and explorer recognized for his expeditions off the coast of Alaska. His expeditions were recognized as he verified the Russian presence in the western North American regions. Narváez conducted the first European exploration of the Georgia Strait region of the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia.
Gonzalo López de Haro
(c. 1788 – 1823)
He was an official of the Spanish Navy, recognized for having made a number of exploration expeditions along the west coast of North America. One of his main achievements was to have detailed the topography of the coasts of California and Sonora at the same time as several areas of Mexico. He is considered the first European to reach the San Juan Islands in what is now known as the Haro Strait.