What’s in a Name?
This is our local name series! Most of our featured names are drawn from “The Encyclopedia of Raincoast Place Names” by Andrew Scott. We have a copy in the library.
Sooke Inlet to Otter Point
One of our paddles this month was from Whiffen Spit to Otter point, so our names article focuses on that area this month.
John George Whiffin was a clerk aboard the RN survey ship HMS Herald under the command of Captain Henry Kellett in 1846-7. (Kellet named many of the features in Sooke Basin.)
Is named after Henry Charles Otter of the Royal Navy. Otter gained a reputation during the Crimean War and Captain Kellett named Otter "Head" after him in 1846.
Secretary (Donaldson) Island
Secretary Island was the name adopted by Henry Kellett in 1847 and it may have originally been named by James Douglas, though the origin of the name is not known. The island was renamed in 1911 to avoid confusion with the Secretary Islands in Trincomali Channel off Saltspring Island. Alexander Dawson Donaldson was a Scot who had come to BC by way of Wisconsin in search of gold, but eventually bought Silver Spray Farm in East Sooke. 70 years later it was decided to revert to Secretary Island since local mariners had not taken to "Donaldson Island". The hydrographic service decided to put it on the charts as Secretary (Donaldson) Island, and it seems to still be that way on charts!
Another 1846 Henrey Kellett name, Sheringham Point is named after a fellow surveyor, William Louis Sheringham. The point was named Punta de San Eusebio by Manuel Quimper in 1790. the lighthouse was built in 1912 and was automated in 1989.
John Muir came to BC in 1849 to work for the HBC. He and his family were pioneer farmers in the Sooke area and have several features named after them (Muir Cove, Muir Creek and Mt. Muir). Muir was a magistrate and a member of Vancouver Island's initial elected colonial assembly. His son Andrew Muir became Vancouver Island's first sheriff in 1857.
William Forster Parsons was 2nd master aboard The HMS Herald under Captain Henry Kellett. The prolific namer, Kellett, named the point after Parsons in 1846. By the way, Kellet made some of BC's earliest Admiralty charts along the south coast of Vancouver Island in 1846-47.