In 1881, Seattle became the gateway to the Yukon, the last stop for gold miners seeking their fortunes in the untamed northern wilderness.
Two weeks ago I took a delightful cruise excursion around Elliot Bay, partaking in the types of foodstuffs the miners might have enjoyed before heading north.
The sampling of food was tasty, and the “history lecture,” although a bit on the generic side, was more than enough for most passengers.
But alas, I am not of the “most passengers” ilk.
I taught Washington State and US History classes for many years. When the tour guide spoke of the English sea captain, “Thomas Vancouver,” I felt myself involuntarily begin to rise out of my seat, thoroughly appalled. Thomas? Seriously?
At the interlude for the lunch buffet, I gently corrected her. “It was George Vancouver,” I said softly, “not Thomas.”
The young woman did not apologize. “Oh, I knew that,” she replied with a shrug.
She wasn’t from around these parts. That’s no excuse, nor should it be, but I wondered why there wasn’t a native Washingtonian on board who would understand how George’s explorations played out in the area eventually becoming the 42nd state, and not a province of Canada.
On the waterfront, quite close to where the miners boarded a sailing ship with their full year’s provisions, there now stands a huge, enclosed Ferris wheel. My, how times have changed!
I’ll bet Thomas would just roll over in his grave if he knew. And so, most likely, would George…