Descanso Bay

Feature Type:Bay - Water area in an indentation of the shoreline of a sea, lake, or large river.
Status:
Name Authority: BC Geographical Names Office
Relative Location: W end of Gabriola Island facing Nanaimo Harbour, Nanaimo Land District
Latitude-Longitude: 49°10'50''N, 123°52'00''W at the approximate centre of this feature.
Datum: NAD83
NTS Map: 92G/4

Origin Notes and History:

"Descanso Bay (not Knight Bay or Rocky Bay)" adopted 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

"This is the Cala del Descanso ("Small bay of Rest") of the Spanish naval officers Galiano and Valdes, commanding respectively the exploring schooners Sutil and Mexicana, who circumnavigated what is now known as Vancouver island in the summer of 1792. The welcome anchorage for their small vessels was named "Descanso" from the fact of their discovering it at the close of a stormy day, 15 June 1792. On a pamphlet published in London by the Hudson's Bay Company, dated 1849, called "Colonization of Vancouver's island" this bay is named "Cala Descanso", and also on the map, dated 1854, accompanying Governor Douglas's "Report of a Canoe Expedition along the East Coast of Vancouver Island" (Royal Geographical Society, June 1853) and is mentioned in the text although he applies the name to the promontory, in which the bay is distinctly shown, not knowing apparently that "cala", nautically means "small bay". The name Descanso is also given on the official map of 1859, Lands and Works Department, Victoria, where the same error is preserved by applying the name to the adjacent land and not to the waters of the small bay. In the survey of Captain Richards, dated 1862, it is named Rocky bay. Original Spanish name restored, on the resurveying of the neighbourhood by Commander John F. Parry, 1904."

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)

This is NOT the anchorage used by the Spaniards; recently-discovered sketches by Galiano demonstrate that his Cala del Descanzo is actually today's Pilot Bay. See "Acalá Galiano's sketchmaps of Gabriola" by Nick Doe, published in SHALE: Journal of the Gabriola Historical & Museum Society, Vol.1, No.1, pp12-21 (copy on file N.1.51).

Source: included with note

Named "Knight Bay" by Captain John F. Parry, HMS Egeria, in 1904, to honour Lieutenant John Harry Knight. Original Spanish name restored by Geographic Board in 1906. (from SHALE: Journal of the Gabriola Historial & Museum Society; Nick Doe editor)

Source: included with note