The Royal Canadian Mint has commemorated the 240th anniversary of James Cook arriving at Nootka Sound, Canada, in March 1778, with three coins featuring different designs on their reverse sides. The first one ($1) shown here is by Maskull Lasserre. It shows Cook and a Mowachaht chief with Resolution between them. In the background is a map of Vancouver Island, and the coin is surrounded by nautical rope. The second one ($30) depicted is by Neil Hamelin. The Mowachaht beach keeper stands with one arm raised, while his right hand grips a paddle bearing a traditional motif. Resolution is in the background. The third coin ($1) is by John Horton.
John Horton told me the background to this design.
Over the years I have studied and painted many works of Cook’s explorations of the west coast of Canada especially his stay in Nootka. My inspiration has come from my visits to Ship Cove and Observatory Rock on my own boat, and painting onsite in Ship Cove itself.
Bad weather and general wear and tear on the ships had caused Cook to search for a safe haven where he could repair his ships, especially the damaged masts of HMS Resolution.
Nootka was the place he chose which would be of tremendous consequence for the future Canada.
After landing in a place he named Ship Cove, on Bligh Island, Cook erected his observatory tent and raised the British flag, as an act of possession. This became the foundation for the British claim to be upheld by Captain Vancouver and the British Government against the Spanish and even later American claims. In future years this enabled Canada to go from “Sea to Sea”.
For this important reason my design zeros in on Ship Cove, Observatory Rock, HMS Resolution (under repair because that was the whole reason for being there), the observation tent, and the British flag in act of possession.
I have indicated the native contact and a likeness of Cook along with Observatory Rock, the flag and the ship under repair and native contact.
Details of HMS Resolution were gleaned many years ago from the wonderful model owned by the Oregon Historical Society, which was constructed from actual drawings of the ship.
The likeness of Cook is based on the sculpture at Admiralty Arch, London.
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 34, volume 41, number 3 (2018).