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Hawaiian History in Canada

By Linda Tancs

Canada’s Gulf Islands are scattered across the Salish Sea between Vancouver and Southern Vancouver Island. Much of that natural oasis comprises Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, a place teeming with trails leading to mountaintop viewpoints, lighthouses and reminders of First Nations and pioneer pasts. Part of that pioneering past involves Hawaiians who homesteaded there. In fact, by the 1870s Hawaiians began settling in the Gulf Islands after the U.S. Government began passing legislation preventing them from becoming American citizens or owning land. In British Columbia they continued their work in the maritime fur trade and became landowners, farmers and fishermen. Part of that Hawaiian history is preserved on Russell Island at the Mahoi house, where descendants of Maria Mahoi (the sole heir to the island in 1901) share family stories about Kanaka (Hawaiian) settlement.


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