Kanaka: The Untold Story of Hawaiian Pioneers in British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest


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SKU: 1551102951 Category:

Author: Koppel, Tom
Format: Softcover; 152 pps

Mention Hawaii and most North Americans picture palm trees and beaches. It is difficult to imagine that people would willingly leave the sunny islands of Polynesia to live in British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest. Yet during the nineteenth century, hundreds of Hawaiians did just that, mainly to serve the Hudson’s Bay Company at fur trading posts from Oregon to Alaska. By the 1880s Kanakas (the Hawaiian word for “human beings”) were living in the Vancouver area, Victoria, the Gulf Islands, the San Juan Islands and in scattered communities along the coast of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California.
Kanakas included both heroes and villains. Some became esteemed members of their communities while others were hanged for murder. Mainly, however, they were gutsy survivors who worked hard and adapted remarkably well to their chosen home. Their descendants still live in British Columbia and the American West, remain proud of their unique heritage and celebrate it in gatherings and seaside luaus.
The story of this extraordinary migration has long been overlooked. Through archival records, personal letters, photographs, and interviews with descendants of the original settlers, Tom Koppel chronicles the lives of the brave and hardy Kanakas and their offspring, and recognizes the contribution these people have made to British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest.