BC Geographical Names

Name Details:

Name: Gabriola Island
Feature TypeClick here for a list of
Feature Types.
Island - Land area surrounded by water or marsh
StatusClick here for an explanation of Status.: Official
Relative Location: One of the Gulf Islands, just off Nanaimo on W side of the Strait of Georgia, Nanaimo Land District
Latitude-LongitudeClick here for an explanation of Position Type.: 49°09'35''N, 123°47'22''W at the approximate centre of this feature.
DatumClick here for an explanation of Datum.: NAD83
NTS MapClick here for an explanation of NTS Map.: 92G/4
  Nearby names within

Origin Notes and History:

Gabriola Island adopted as labelled on British Admiralty Chart 579, 1863 et seq, and as identified in the 6th Report of the Geographic Board of Canada, 30 June 1906.
Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office
The Spherical Chart of 1795, by Galiano & Valdes, identifies "Punta de Gaviola"
Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office
"The name seems to be a corruption of the Spanish name for it, "Gaviola", which in turn I consider to be an error for Gaviota."
Source: Wagner, Henry R; The Cartography of the Northwest Coast of America; University of California Press, Berkley, 1937
"An adaptation of the Spanish name Gaviola or Gabiola (Punta de Gaviola) which was given to the east end of the island in 1791 by Jose Maria Narvaez while making an examination of these waters in command of the small exploring schooner Saturnina, under the orders of Lieutenant Eliza." [note that the Spanish "v" is pronounced like the English "b", hence Gaviola is heard as Gabiola, thence further corrupted to Gabriola ]
Source: Walbran, John T; British Columbia Coast Names, 1592-1906: their origin and history; Ottawa, 1909 (republished for the Vancouver Public Library by J.J. Douglas Ltd, Vancouver, 1971)
...The name originally given by the Spaniards in 1791 to the southeastern part of the island was Punta de Gaviota (Cape Seagull) but... was corrupted first into 'Gaviola' by the Spaniards themselves and then into 'Gabriola.'
Source: Akrigg, Helen B. and Akrigg, G.P.V; British Columbia Place Names; Sono Nis Press, Victoria 1986 /or University of British Columbia Press 1997
"Gabriola [Island's] name is derived from the Spanish 'Punta de Gaviola' (Point Gaviola), which, at the time, was frequently written without distinction as 'Punta de Gabiola' (with a "b"). There was originally no "r"; this addition was a careless copying error made by a British cartographer in the mid-19th century.... There is not a scrap of evidence in the historical records to support the notion that the word gaviola was a corruption of gaviota, meaning "seagull". This idea is a 20th-century myth.... Gaviola is the family name of aristocrats who originally came from the Mendaro Valley in the Basque province of Guipúzcoa in Spain.... Simón de Gaviola y Zabala, after whom the island is probably named... [was] paymaster (treasurer) of the fleet protecting the trade routes to the Americas [thus] well qualified for the honour of having a geographical feature named after him... ". Jose Narvaez is often said to have given Gabriola/Gaviola/Gaviota its name, [but] it is more likely that Juan Francisco Bodega y Quadra named the island. (See further discussion of Spanish exploration and naming practices on this coast, comparison of Spanish & modern place names, Basque traditions, etymology of 'gaviola', and Gaviola geneologies in "The origin of Gabriola's name" by Nick Doe, published in SHALE, the Journal of the Gabriola Historical & Museum Society, No.13, June 2006, pp.9-37. Earlier discussion in the article "Seagull Island?" by Nick Doe, published in SHALE Vol.1, No.1, November 2000, p.42.) See also "Gaviola, Camino and Romay:18th century placenames in the Strait of Georgia" www.nickdoe.ca/pdfs/Webp511c.pdf (link provided April 2011.)
Source: included with note