Along the exterior of the Legislative Library are 14 statues of individuals who held prominence in the earlier history of the territory now known as British Columbia. One of those statues depicts Chief Maquinna of the Mowachaht Nation.
In 1778, Chief Maquinna established a valuable trading relationship with the British, greeting Captain James Cook at Yuquot (Friendly Cove) on Vancouver Island. Chief Maquinna’s astute judgment allowed his Nation to rise to one of the most important fur trading communities on the North American continent by solidifying its control over the most visited trading post in the Pacific Northwest.
Chief Maquinna’s participation with numerous European expeditions to the Pacific Northwest put him in an important position when Britain and Spain were set to go to war over competing claims for commercial trade and settlement in the Mowachaht Nation’s territory. Captain Vancouver, from Britain, and Admiral Quadra, from Spain, attempted to persuade Chief Maquinna to join their respective sides in the dispute, but Chief Maquinna refused to recognize one claim over another. This resulted in a political stalemate and an eventual peaceful resolution that contributed significantly to the continued dominance of the Mowachaht Nation in the competitive fur trade and the commercial viability of the Pacific Northwest to Europe. There is no written record of when Chief Maquinna was born or when he died, but he is believed to have been the Mowachaht Nation’s Chief from 1778 - when Chief Maquinna and Captain Cook first met - to the mid 1790s.