Principe Channel

Feature Type:Channel (3) - Narrow stretch of water connecting two bodies of water.
Name Authority: BC Geographical Names Office
Relative Location: Between Pitt and Banks Islands, Range 4 Coast Land District
Latitude-Longitude: 53°25'35''N, 129°56'59''W at the approximate centre of this feature.
Datum: NAD83
NTS Map: 103H/5
Related Maps: 103G/1

Origin Notes and History:

Adopted in the 18th Report of the Geographic Board of Canada, 31 March 1924, as identified on Spanish charts produced in 1792 by Caamaño, and identified in Vancouver's 1793 journal, and labelled on subsequent Admiralty charts and early maps of B.C.

Source: BC place name cards & correspondence, and/or research by BC Chief Geographer & Geographical Names Office staff.

Captain Colnett's Journal states that during the 1787 season they anchored at Port Ball and explored the surrounding territory, including a journey up Principe Channel, the first exploration of this channel by Europeans. The following year in 1788 Captain Charles Duncan of the sloop Princess Royal returned and further explored Principe Channel. From the information they secured during these voyages, Colnett and Duncan produced the first significant cartographic representations of the channel and surrounding area. (Information provided by geographer Robert M. Galois, July 2018)

Source: included with note

Captain Charles Duncan of the sloop Princess Royal was the first European to sail down this channel between Banks and Pitt Islands, in quest of the fur trade, in 1788. (He had been in the very lower/southern reaches of this waterway the previous year, with Captain Colnett, but did not explore further.) In February 1791 Capt. Colnett informed the Spanish at Nootka of chart information from his 1787 and 1788 voyages on this coast, and the Caamaño voyage into these waters was undertaken in 1792. A Spanish map in the Museo Naval in Madrid, drawn from Colnett’s information, includes the citation “balandra Princesa Rl.” however Caamaño’s own amendments to the Colnett-provided chart show "Canal del Principe Real" for this waterway [note that Principe Real is Prince Royal, whereas Duncan's sloop had been the Princess Royal, a distinction of which Caamaño would have been aware.] The official Spanish chart produced after Caamaño's survey shows the name Canal del Principe - the 'Real' having been eliminated altogether. The original intent is further obscured in “Journals of J. Caamano” with H.R. Wagner’s footnote that Canal del Principe might have been named after the Principe de Asturias, heir to the Spanish throne. Not so: Capt. Colnett had identified Princess Royal Channel correctly, after Duncan’s vessel, and the Spanish map in the Museo Naval (identified above) correctly translates the name. Why Caamaño chose to alter the name to Canal del Principe Real then to Canal del Principe is not known. When Captain Vancouver and those with him sailed northward through this channel in 1793 they knew they were transiting the waterway first navigated by Capt. Duncan; Menzies' journal at that time even referred to the waterway as “Duncan's Channel” but Vancouver chose to adopt the name Principe Channel, given to it by Jacinto Caamaño the year before. (Encapsulation provided May 2003 by Sooke historian Richard E. Wells)

Source: included with note