European Contact

The first European contact with Metchosin probably occurred when Sub Lieutenant Manuel Quimper landed at Albert Head on June 30, 1790 and had come from San Blas, Mexico, with Lieutenant Eliza’s expedition. He sailed from Nootka on May 31, 1790, in the captured British sloop Princess Royal (one of Captain John Meares’ ships), renamed the Princesa Real. His orders were to explore the Strait of Juan de Fuca. In doing so he gave every place between Port San Juan (Port Renfrew) and Esquimalt their original Spanish names. Of local interest were Rada de Eliza (Pedder Bay), Rada de Solano (Parry Bay) and Rada de Valdes y Bazan (Royal Roads). Most names have since vanished into oblivion, including those named by him the following year, but among those still extant are such names as Sombrio, Haro, Rosario, San Juan, Texada and Port Los Angelos (Port Angeles). When Quimper landed at Albert Head in 1790, he cut a cross in a pine tree (one of a group of six trees), buried a bottle, and claimed the land in the name of the King of Spain. This event has led some historians on the search for the Cross.

Thomas Blinkhorn's House
Thomas Blinkhorn's House. The first home in Metchosin

The next written record of a visit to the area is that of James Douglas, who was sent in 1842 from Fort Vancouver to select a suitable site for a trading post on southern Vancouver Island. Fort Vancouver being too near the disputed boundary line between the British territory and the United States. On behalf of his employer, the Hudson’s Bay Company, he visited Sy-yousung (Sooke Harbour), the former port of Whyring (Pedder Bay), Metchosin, Is whoy malth (Esquimalt) and Camosack (Victoria Harbour). Of the area he wrote: “Metchosin is an open roadstead, one and a half mile wast of the former port. It is a very pretty place, and has a small fresh water run near it. There is, however, no harbor, and the anchorage is exposed, and must be insecure in rough weather. In addition to that disadvantage, the extent of clear ground is much too small for the demands of a large establishment, and a great part of what is clear is poor, stony lands with a rolling surface, so that on the whole it would not do for us.” His choice fell on Camosack and Fort Camosun, later Victoria, established in 1843. Metchosin would be mention in the 1855 Census, with the first white settlement, Bilston Farm, established in 1854 by Thomas Blinkhorn.

Source: FootPrints Pioneer Families of the Metchosin District, Marion I. Helgesen editor.