A Town Named After a Hawaiian: Friday Harbor, Washington

The Hudson Bay Company named Friday Harbor, a town in San Juan County, Washington, after a Hawaiian shepherd named John Friday.

A British gunboat went to shore. The gunboat’s commanding officer asked Friday, the only man there, what the name of the harbor was. Friday didn’t understand English well and replied “Friday,” thinking the officer was asking for his name.

The name stuck with the ship’s crew members, and eventually the British created the first chart of the archipelago with the name Friday Harbor.

-Alice Kim

Notes: Native Hawaiians worked on the Mainland in the 1800s. During the gold rush, Native Hawaiians searched for gold in California and Fraser Canyon. Hundreds of paniolo (cowboys) steered livestock in the U.S. Great Basin. Hawaiians in Washington and Oregon harvested sugar beets and apples. Hawaiian fur trappers working for the Hudson’s Bay Company in Canada intermarried with the First Nations people.

The Hawaiians’ legacy can be seen today in the places named with Hawaiian words. They include Kanaka (Hawaiian person), Owyhee (an old Hawaiian name for Hawaii), and Kamai (named after the Hawaiian Kama Kamai): the Kanaka Glade in Mendocino County, California; Kanaka Creek in Sierra County, California; Kanaka Bars in Trinity County, California; Kanaka Flats in Jacksonville, Oregon; Kanaka Gulch, Oregon; Owyhee River in southeastern Oregon; and Kamai Point, British Columbia.


“Origin of Name of Friday Harbor”
The San Juan islander., November 28, 1908, Image 1


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