Juan de Fuca

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Juan de Fuca | explorer, historical | The Spanish name for intrepid Greek maritime pilot Ioannis Phokas, born in 1536 on the Ionian island of Cefalonia. He sailed under the flag of King Phillip II of Spain and is best known in the Pacific Northwest for being the first European to see the strait that divides Vancouver Island from the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State in 1592. This same body of water was given the name Juan de Fuca Strait two hundred years later by British ship captain Charles William Barkley, who ‘rediscovered’ it in 1787.

Unfortunately for de Fuca, when he returned to Acapulco the Viceroy of New Spain dodged the bill for his voyage and ‘discoveries’, and de Fuca returned to his village of Valeriáno in Greece unpaid and embittered. He died there in 1602.

See also: Spanish Banks.

Usage: “I’ve always thought Juan de Fuca would be the perfect name for a West Coast meets Greek restaurant in Vancouver…”

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