Edhird's Blog

Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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WordPress now tells me which countries my visitors are coming from…

2012-02-09 to Today (350,744 visitors so far)

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The Unforgettable Captain Vancouver

 By the Rev. Dr.  Ed Hird

North Vancouver District…North Vancouver City…West Vancouver… Vancouver City…Vancouver, Washington….How did so many local cities get a Dutch name like Vancouver?

The name goes back to when the Canadian Pacific Railway came to Port Moody in 1886, and then to Vancouver in 1887.  Vancouver was first called Gastown, before being changed to Granville after Lord Granville for his part in birthing the Canadian Confederation.  Some key ‘movers-and-shakers’ wanted to name Vancouver ‘The City of Liverpool’.  The ‘Railway General’, William Van Horne, then vice-president of the CPR, felt that this newly incorporated city deserved a famous name to go with its famous future.  “This is destined”, said Van Horne, ” to become a great city, perhaps the greatest city in Canada.  We must see to it that it has a name commensurate with its dignity and importance, and Vancouver it shall be, if I have the ultimate decision.”

Since William Van Horne had been the driving force behind CPR’s rapid completion of the CPR line through the Prairies and onto Port Moody; he was listened to most carefully.  Sir William Van Horne went on to become the President of the CPR in 1888; before being knighted in 1894.  Both the Vancouver, Washington citizens and the Vancouver Island residents were upset that Van Horne had stolen their name given to them by Captain George Vancouver himself.  Fort Vancouver, Washington was established in 1824 as the first British Settlement on the West Coast.  The Victoria merchants were so upset by this ‘theft’ that they organized a boycott of all Eastern Canada companies who did business with Van Horne’s Vancouver.

 

Robert Beaven of Victoria complained how wrong it was that Van Horne, being an American citizen, could take so much control after only two years in Vancouver.  It is highly ironic that the CPR coast-to-coast railway, which kept BC from joining the USA, was to a very large extent managed and built by Americans.  Pierre Burton notes how upset some people were that Van Horne hired more Americans than Canadians to accomplish this nationalist task of uniting Canada by rail.

Why did Van Horne choose Vancouver??  Perhaps part of Van Horne’s attraction to Captain George Vancouver is that they were both of Dutch ancestors, and that both as orphans had ‘made good’ despite enormous obstacles.  Vancouver’s paternal family had once been the van Coevordens in the Province of Drenkte, Holland.

Captain Vancouver led one of the greatest expeditions ever undertaken.  His mandate came from a sudden threat of war with Spain.  British ships had been seized, the flag had been insulted, rights of British subjects had been violated, all in that distant port of Nootka on what came to be called Vancouver Island.  Captain Vancouver was sent to receive Nootka back from the Spanish, and to map the Pacific Coast. He and his men, squeezed into two ninety-nine foot sloops, covered 65,000 miles in only four years. Vancouver had meticulously mapped the continental shore line from latitude 56 degrees north, in southeastern Alaska, to his assigned southern limit. He proved once and for all that there was no mythical Northwest Passage.  It was a remarkable accomplishment, a tribute to Vancouver’s perseverance, drive, and energy.  Without Vancouver’s monumental work, it is conceivable that the northern boundary of Oregon might have been fixed at latitude 54/40 North and Canada today would have no Pacific shores.

Vancouver learnt well from his mentor Captain Cook in the methods of  warding off the dreaded illness called scurvy.  The seamen detested and grumbled at the strange dishes he made sure were included in their daily diet.  They only wanted salt pork, beef, and dried peas –their usual fare.  However, Vancouver provided them with extras in the form of pickled cabbage, malt, a peculiar-tasting beer, lime-juice, and something officially described as carrot marmalade.  They either ate their foods or were given the lash.  British sailors got the nickname ‘limey’ from this ‘peculiar’ practice of daily lime-juice.  Vancouver’s ‘limeys’ stayed alive and healthy when, in almost any other vessel afloat, perhaps half of them would be dead inside two years at sea.

Along the way to Vancouver Island, Captain Vancouver learnt many native languages with ease.  At one point, he used this skill to do successful marriage counseling that reconciled the King and Queen of Hawaii.  In a remarkably contemporary tone, King  Tamaahmaah denied his wife’s accusations of adultery, pleading, however, ‘that his high rank and supreme authority was a sort of license for such indulgences.’  The Hawaiian King was so grateful for Vancouver’s marital and political advice that he ceded all of the Hawaiian Islands over to the British Crown.  Shortsightedly the British government didn’t want another obscure little colony, and so refused the offer.  Just think…if we’d played our cards right, Hawaii could have become the 11th province of Canada!

Captain Vancouver inscribed the names of every officer he had ever respected up and down the coast. :  All in all, Vancouver discovered and named more than two hundred places.  As a young child, I remembered my mother commenting rapturously about Mt. Baker.  I had no idea that Mom was invoking the memory of Vancouver’s third lieutenant.  Burrard Inlet was named by Vancouver for an old shipmate of Europa and Expedition days in the Caribbean, Sir Harry Burrard of the navy.  Point Grey was named as a compliment to Vancouver’s friend Captain George Grey.

 

Many BCers don’t realize that the Spanish once ‘owned’ the BC Coast.  In honour of his cordial relations with the Captain Quadra who relinquished the Spanish claim to BC, Captain Vancouver gave to Vancouver Island the full name of ‘Quadra & Vancouver Island’.

Four years at sea began to wear down Vancouver’s spirit.  Near the end, he commented: “I am once more entrapped in this infernal Ocean, and am totally at a loss to say when I shall be able to quit it.”  To his brother Van, he wrote complaining about ‘these remote and uncouth regions’.  He never heard one word from his superiors in all of the four years.  After his heroic journey around the world, Vancouver received little acclaim and less money.  The admiralty took four years to pay the wages they owed Vancouver; the small amount they allowed barely covered his debts. With the horrific Napoleonic wars breaking out, no one had the time to worry about some obscure little settlements on the Northwest coast of what Queen Victoria eventually named as British Columbia.

Vancouver died broken-hearted and rejected at age 40.  His tombstone in Petersham was only a plain common grave that was soon forgotten about.  Years later, it is well-tended and is remembered annually by the people of British Columbia, who helped rebuild St. Peter’s Church after the Second World War.  On this 212th Anniversary of Vancouver’s death, may we each choose to be courageous on our journeys of life.  May Jesus the Captain of our souls keep our sails aloft and trimmed.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Sir Martin Frobisher: the first Canadian Pirate

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

How many of us have realized that the Canadian North was first ‘discovered’ 434 years ago by an English pirate?  A pirate, of course, is in the eye of the beholder.  Sir Martin Frobisher was arrested at least four times for high-sea piracy, but was let go with a scolding by Queen Elizabeth I.  Confiscating Spanish ships was one thing, but a good English ‘sea-dog’ was always supposed to keep his hands off English goods.  Frobisher ended up spending time in jail for confiscating English wine vats that had been on a French ship.  Upon release from prison, Frobisher decided to sail over the top of Canada through the mythical Northwest Passage to China.  His goal was to become rich by finding an alternative route for Asian pepper.  Because there was no refrigeration in those days, pepper was in high demand, being used by Europeans to make their meat palatable.

One of Frobisher’s specialties as Captain was to punish sabre-duelling crewmates by chopping off their right hands.  Frobisher was also a brave leader who thought nothing of diving into iceberg-strewn waters to rescue drowning sailors.  Once while on their way to Baffin Island, his ship Gabriel fell over on its side and began filling up with water.  Without a moment’s hesitation, Frobisher grabbed an axe and hacked off the foresail, enabling the ship to right itself.  Though a rough-and-tumbles privateer, he never went anywhere on his daring voyages without his bible.  Upon returning to England with three Inuit hostages and a mysterious black rock, Frobisher kicked off Canada’s first Gold Rush.  The Russian Tsar officially protested this kidnapping of Asian Siberians!  Frobisher claimed that his Inuit hostages were being held to seek the release of five of his crewmembers that had disappeared.  Before dying from English fog and food, the 3 Inuits thrilled the Queen by shooting royal birds and kayaking down the Avon River.

All the credible scientists told Frobisher’s financial backer, Michael Lok, that the black rock was worthless ‘fools gold’.  But Michael Lok, being an early stock promoter of the less reputable kind, ignored their advice and instead consulted an Italian alchemist, Giovanni Agnello, who used ‘black magic’ to discern that Martin Frobisher’s rock was indeed gold.

The English business community, backed by Queen Elizabeth I, became so excited about the first Canadian Gold Rush, that they sent 15 Ships to Frobisher Bay on Baffin Island.  The Queen even lent her own 200-ton ship AID.  Gold Rush fever brought together the largest Armada of English ships ever assembled until World War II.  Frobisher’s public image was rapidly transformed by his stockpromoter, Michael Lok, from that of an uncouth pirate to that of the ‘rare and valiant’ Captain General embarking on a heroic mission. Everyone, including Martin Frobisher himself, believed that he had discovered the Northwest Passage to China, and that Baffin Island contained King Solomon’s hidden mines.  In this first English attempt to colonize the New World, Frobisher brought 120 would-be settlers, miners, carpenters, and an Anglican priest named Rev. Robert Wolfall.

On their way to Baffin Island, they faced desperate circumstances due to mountainous icebergs that could crush their ships like matchboxes.  The hardened sailors knelt down on the decks and prayed for God’s mercy. Two of the sailors’ prayers recorded for posterity by Captain Best were ‘Lord help us now or never’ and ‘Now Lord look down from heaven and save us sinners, or else our safety will come too late’.  With no radar or telecommunications to guide them in the fog, they saved the sailors on the sunken ‘Dennis’ by using trumpets, drums, canons and the two passwords: ‘Before the world was God’, to be answered by ‘After God came Christ His Son’. Captain Best recorded that Rev. Wolfall encouraged Frobisher’s men ‘to be thankful for their strange and miraculous deliverance’ at sea.  To celebrate their safe arrival on Baffin Island, Rev. Wolfall celebrated the first Anglican Communion service ever held in Canada, just 420 years ago.

After three Frobisher Bay expeditions costing over 20,000 pounds, including 3,500 pounds of the Queen’s money, Martin Frobisher brought back 2,300 tons of alleged gold to England.  This ‘gold rush’ treasure was promptly secured with 4 padlocks in the Tower of London and Bristol Castle.  Once the geologists found out that the Baffin Island gold was fool’s gold, Frobisher and many of his investors went into bankruptcy.  His financial backer, Michael Lok, was sent to jail.  To cover the embarrassment of Canada’s first Bre-X-style disaster, the 2,300 tons of fools gold was dumped into the Bristol Harbour and also used to pave roads.  Yet Frobisher never stayed defeated for long. Within a few years, he joined the British navy and ended up being knighted by Queen Elizabeth for defeating the Spanish Armada.

Sir Martin Frobisher’s story teaches us that all of us are on a journey, that sometimes our hopes and dreams turn out to be fools gold, but that God can even use our mistakes and turn them to a higher good.  My prayer for those reading this article is that God may turn everything that is against us to our advantage.(Romans 8:28)

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

 -previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca