The Land in the Southern
nlets of these strates is most
reatfull to the Eye. . . . ris-
ng in Small Hillocks and
ounts till the more in-
and parts. It is overlooked
y Lofty Snow Mountains
nd indeed Nature as if she
tudied the Convenience of
ankind, has so disposed of
he Trees as to form on the
ising Grounds the most
eautiful Lawns on which I
ave seen Grass Man Height.
he British merchant captains who visited northwest America in the sea otter trade that com-
menced after Cook’s voyage reported the existence of the Strait of Juan de Fuca leading toward
the interior. The Admiralty instructed Vancouver to explore it, reminding him that “the dis-
covery of a new communication between any such sea or strait and any river running into or
from the Lake of the Woods [in northern Minnesota] would be particularly useful.”
These orders brought Vancouver to the Sound. His hope was that this inland sea might swing eastward
through the Cascades or at least be fed by a river that did. But there were complications to exploring it.
The waterway just ahead was split by a headland [Vashon Island]: a broad channel to port slanting south-
east, a narrow arm to starboard leading south.
These were constricted waters, and the 330-ton
drew 15 feet. Vancouver decided it would be
prudent to leave the ship at anchor awaiting the arrival of its small consort, the
which was mak-
ing a reconnaissance along the eastern shore. He would send a party to explore the southern Sound in
small boats, “although the execution of such a service in open boats would necessarily be extremely labori-
ous, and expose those so employed to numerous dangerous and unpleasant situations.”
Having made his decision, Vancouver seated himself on a chest that doubled as a chair, laid paper on the
slanted surface of his writing box, and took up a quill pen. I like to imagine the scene: the ship rocking
gently, rigging creaking, small waves slapping, gulls mewing as they wheeled on steady wings. Somewhere
out in the darkness a loon laughed. In the cabin, the soft light of the whale oil lamp; ashore, the flare of the
Indian fires.
What Peter Puget saw
by Murray C. Morgan Hon.’76
Through the university’s many official names across 125 years—Puget Sound
University, the University of Puget Sound, the College of Puget Sound, and
the University of Puget Sound again—one part of our identity has been
ever-present: the name of a magnificent body of water, the “silver seas” of
Puget Sound itself, which have inspired all who gazed upon it, from native
inhabitants to the first Europeans, and not least its modern namesake, the
18th-century British naval officer Peter Puget.