Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Home Regions Campsites Penny Postcards My Corps of Discovery Image Index Links About This Site Main Menu
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Fort Vancouver, Washington ... Village"
Includes ... The Village ... Kanaka Village ... Company Village ... Fort Vancouver ...
Image, 2011, Fort Vancouver, Kanaka Village, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Village information sign, Fort Vancouver, Washington. Image taken August 2, 2011.

The Village ...
The fields west of Fort Vancouver once was a thriving community of Hudson's Bay employees. Often referred to as the "Kanaka Village" or "Company Village", the community once housed 300 employees, with the majority being French-Canadians, Indians, Eupropeans, and Hawaiians.

Image, 2011, Fort Vancouver, Kanaka Village, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
House, "The Village", Fort Vancouver, Washington. Image taken August 2, 2011.

Reconstruction ...
On June 19, 2010, the two replica houses of the Fort Vancouver Village were dedicated. At one time 60 houses for Fort Vancouver employees occupied the field west of the Fort. According to the U.S. National Park Service website (2010),   "... The reconstructed houses are of the same architectural style as represented by historic images, accounts, and archaeological data. In addition, new wood fence lines have been added around these houses, reflecting an aspect of the historical landscape that is portrayed on some of the historical images of the Village. ..."

Image, 2011, Fort Vancouver, Kanaka Village, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Replica, "The Village", Fort Vancouver, Washington. Image taken August 2, 2011.
Image, 2011, Fort Vancouver, Kanaka Village, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
House, "The Village", Fort Vancouver, Washington. Image taken August 2, 2011.
Image, 2011, Fort Vancouver, Kanaka Village, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
House, "The Village", Fort Vancouver, Washington. Image taken August 2, 2011.
Image, 2011, Fort Vancouver, Kanaka Village, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
House, "The Village", Fort Vancouver, Washington. Image taken August 2, 2011.

"Kanaka Village" ...

"Established with the fort in 1829, the village was one of the largest settlements in the West during its time.

Housing the workers and their families, and the fur brigades when they returned from their expeditions, the population of the village exceeded 600 people during peak times.

Company employees, their wives, and children supported the Fort's extensive operations including several hundred square miles of agricultural land, a shipyard, distillery, tannery, sawmill, gristmill, and dairies.

During the late 1840s and early 1850s, slowing returns from trapping and growing numbers of settlers led to a shift in focus from the fur brigades to land-based mercantile opportunities.

With this change came a shift in the village activity and population. The numbers of Hawaiian employees increased, such that by the 1850s the village became known as "Kanaka Town," or "Kanaka Village," referring to the Hawaiian word for "person."

Not only was the village a living quarters for the Company employees, it was also crucial in establishing the U.S. Army as a permanent presence in the Pacific Northwest.

Arriving in 1849, the U.S. Army and the Hudson's Bay Company coexisted amicably -- at first. The Army rented many of the village buildings, hired Native American laborers, and made use of the trade available through the Fort's market.

In the early 1850s, the Army built several new buildings in the village area, including the Quartermaster Depot, shown in the photo, and Captain Rufus Ingalls' house, where Ulysses S. Grant lived from 1852 until 1853.

Increasing pressure on land in the West by American settlers and declining returns from trapping soured the relations between the Army and Fort Vancouver in the latter half of the 1850s.

The Hudson's Bay Company withdrew its operations to Victoria B.C. in June of 1860, leaving the Fort and village in the hands of the Army.

The Army occupied some of the buildings, but fire destroyed all visible traces of the establishment by 1866. After 1866, the Army used the Kanaka Village area in a variety of ways, from a drill ground to a motor pool.

With the creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps or CCC (1933-1942), the village area became the regional training facility and headquarters of the CCC. The CCC was responsible for many regional public works projects, such as Timberline Lodge.

From one of the largest, multiethnic communities in the West, through the coexistence of the U.S. Army and the Hudson's Bay Company, to the headquarters of the CCC in the middle of the 20th century, Kanaka Village holds great potential to provide visitors a unique experience of history."

Source:   U.S. National Park Service website, 2011, Fort Vancouver

Archaeological Dig ...

Image, 2011, Fort Vancouver, Archaeological Dig, Kanaka Village, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Archaeological dig at the Village grounds, Fort Vancouver, Washington. Image taken August 2, 2011.
Image, 2011, Fort Vancouver, Archaeological Dig, Kanaka Village, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Archaeological dig at the Village grounds, Fort Vancouver, Washington. Image taken August 2, 2011.

More ...

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 4, 1805 ...
A cloudy cool morning wind from the West we Set out at 1/2 past 8 oClock [from their camp on the north side of Government Island, approximately across from Fisher's Landing], one man Shannon Set out early to walk on the Island [Government Island] to kill Something, he joined us at the lower point with a Buck. This island is 6 miles long and near 3 miles wide thinly timbered     (Tide rose last night 18 inches perpndicular at Camp) near the lower point of this diamond Island [Government Island] is The head of a large Island Seperated from a Small one by a narrow chanel [Lewis and Clark show two large islands on their maps, both in today's Government Island area], and both Situated nearest the Lard Side, those Islands [even today the Government Island reach is a complex of many islands] as also the bottoms are thickly Covered with Pine &c. river wide, Country low on both Sides; [since 1983 the Interstate 205 bridge crosses Government Island connecting Oregon to Washington]     on the Main Lard Shore a Short distance below the last Island we landed at a village of 25 Houses: [near Portland International Airport]; ...     This village contains about 200 men of the Skil-loot nation ...

at 7 miles below this village passed the upper point of a large Island [Hayden Island] nearest the Lard Side, a Small Prarie [Jolie Prairie, today the location of Fort Vancouver and Pearson Airpark. Lewis and Clark camp on this prairie on their return] in which there is a pond [one of the many ponds which use to dot this area] opposit on the Stard. here I landed and walked on Shore, about 3 miles a fine open Prarie for about 1 mile, back of which the countrey rises gradually and wood land comencies Such as white oake, pine of different kinds, wild crabs with the taste and flavour of the common crab and Several Species of undergroth of which I am not acquainted, a few Cottonwood trees & the Ash of this countrey grow Scattered on the river bank, ...     joined Capt. Lewis at a place he had landed with the party for Diner. ...

dureing the time we were at dinner those fellows Stold my pipe Tomahawk which They were Smoking with [Tomahawk pipe, thus giving rise to the name Tomahawk Island] ...    we proceeded on

[The men have passed through the area which, 20 years later, Dr. John McLoughlin would choose for a trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company, later to become Fort Vancouver and eventually the city of Vancouver, Washington.]

met a large & a Small Canoe from below, with 12 men the large Canoe was ornimented with Images carved in wood the figures of <man &> a Bear in front & a man in Stern, Painted & fixed verry netely on the <bow & Stern> of the Canoe, rising to near the hight of a man [Lewis and Clark then named Hayden Island "Image Canoe Island"]     two Indians verry finely Dressed & with hats on was in this canoe passed the lower point of the Island [Hayden Island] which is nine miles in length haveing passed 2 Islands on the Stard Side of this large Island [the location of Vancouver Landing and since 1917 the Interstate 5 Bridge connecting Oregon to Washington State], three Small Islands at its lower point [The downstream end of Hayden Island was at one time composed of small islands. One of these, Pearcy Island, would become today's Kelley Point.]. the Indians make Signs that a village is Situated back of those Islands on the Lard. Side and I believe that a Chanel is Still on the Lrd. Side [it wasn't until Lewis and Clark's return trip they would discover the mouth of the Willamette River] as a Canoe passed in between the Small Islands, and made Signs that way, probably to traffick with Some of the nativs liveing on another Chanel, at 3 miles lower [Sauvie Island is located at this stretch, but it is not until the return that Lewis and Clark recognize it as a separate island], and 12 Leagues below quick Sand river [Sandy River] passed a village of four large houses on The Lard. Side [on Sauvie Island], near which we had a full view of Mt. Helien [Mount St. Helens, Washington] which is perhaps the highest pinical in America from their base it bears N. 25 E about 90 miles- This is the mountain I Saw from the Muscle Shell rapid [Umatilla Rapids, Captain Clark actually saw Mount Adams] on the 19th of October last Covered with Snow, it rises Something in the form of a Sugar lofe- about a mile lower passed a Single house on the Lard. Side, and one on the Stard. Side, passed a village on each Side and Camped near a house on the Stard. Side [Post Office Lake vicinity, today within the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge] we proceeded on untill one hour after dark with a view to get clear of the nativs who was constantly about us, and troublesom, finding that we could not get Shut of those people for one night, we landed and Encamped on the Stard. Side ...

This evening we Saw vines much resembling the raspberry which is verry thick in the bottoms. A range of high hills at about 5 miles on the Lard Side [Portland's West Hills'] which runs S. E. & N W. Covered with tall timber the bottoms below in this range of hills and the river is rich and leavel, Saw White geese with a part of their wings black. The river here is 1 miles wide, and current jentle. opposite to our camp on a Small Sandy Island [one of the small sandy islands prevelent in this stretch of the Columbia. Today the Willow Bar Islands on the east side of Sauvie Island lie across from Post Office Lake.] the brant & geese make Such a noise that it will be impossible for me to Sleap. we made 29 miles to day

Clark, March 30, 1806 ...
we got under way verry early [from their camp near Wapato Portage] and had not proceeded to the head of the island [Bachelor Island] before we met with the three men of the Clan-nar-min-a-mon's who met us yesterday brackfast at the upper point of the Island [Bachelor Island] we met Several of the Clackstar and Cath-lah-cum-up in two canoes. Soon after we were overtaken by Several Canoes of different tribes who reside on each Side of the river the three above Tribes and the Clh-in-na-ta cathy-lah-nah-qui-up & Cath-lah-com-mah-tup reside on each Side of Wappato inlet [Multnomah Channel] and back of Wappato Island [Sauvie Island] which Island is formed by a Small Chanel which passes from the Lower part of Image Canoe Island [Hayden Island] into an inlet which makes in from the S W. Side, and receves the water of a Creek which heads with the Kil a mox River. this wappato Island [Sauvie Island] is about 18 or 20 Miles long and in places from 6 to 10 miles wide high & furtile with ponds on different parts of it in which the nativs geather Wappato. nearly opposit the upper point of the Isld. behing which we encamped last night, or on the Wappato Isld. is Several Camps of the nativs catching Sturgion. about 5 miles Still higher up and on the N E. Side we halted for brackfast at the place which We had encamped the 4th of November last [near Post Office Lake, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge]. here we were visited by several canoes of Indians from two Towns a Short distance above on the Wappato Island [Sauvie Island]. the 1st of those Tribes Call themselves Clan-nah-quah and Situated about 2 miles above us, the other about a mile above Call themselves Mult-no-mah ...     at 10 a. m. we Set out and had not proceeded far before we came to a landing place where there was Several large canoes hauled up, and Sitting in a canoe, appearantly waiting our arival with a view to join the fleet indian who was then along Side of us. this man informed he was a Shoto and that his nation resided a little distance from the river. we landed and one of the indians pointed to the Shoto village which is Situated back of Pond [Vancouver Lake] which lies parrelal with the river on the N E. Side nearly opposit the Clan-nah quah village. here we were also joined by Several Canoes loaded with the natives from the Island who Continued to accompany us untill about 4 oClock when they all returned and we proceeded on to the place the Indians Stole my Tomahawk 4th Novr. last [Hayden Island] and Encamped in a Small Prarie ["Jolie Prairie" where Fort Vancouver and Pearson Airpark would some day be located] above a large Pond on N. E and opposit the Center of image Canoe Island [Hayden Island]. capt Lewis walked out and Saw Several deer. Jo. Field Shot at Elk he killed and brought in a fine duck. ...     we made 22 Miles only to day the wind and a Strong current being against us all day, with rain. discovered a high mountain S E. Covered with Snow which we call Mt. Jefferson [Mount Jefferson, Oregon]

Vancouver PlainsReturn to




*River Miles [RM] are approximate, in statute miles, and were determined from USGS topo maps, obtained from NOAA nautical charts, or obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2003

Sources:    [see Sources from Fort Vancouver];   

All Lewis and Clark quotations from Gary Moulton editions of the Lewis and Clark Journals, University of Nebraska Press, all attempts have been made to type the quotations exactly as in the Moulton editions, however typing errors introduced by this web author cannot be ruled out; location interpretation from variety of sources, including this website author.
© 2019, Lyn Topinka, "ColumbiaRiverImages.com", All rights reserved.
Images are NOT to be downloaded from this website.
August 2016