Our History

Our History

The community of Pauquachin , a name generally meaning “the land of cliffs and bluffs”, is historically a First Nations community that is located on Southern Vancouver Island.

Pauquachin was originally part of the WSÁNEĆ (Saanich) Nation, which also includes Tsawout, Tsartlip, and Tseycum. These bands share a common history and territory. The Saanich Nation belongs to the broader cultural group known as Central Coast Salish. Saanich First Nation settlements have been mostly concentrated on the western side of the Saanich Peninsula. The population in Pauquachin began as a small group of 14 families and many of these families are still present today.


Historically, Pauquachin’s economic life has been based on salt-water adaptation due to the community’s position on the SaanichPeninsula. Saanich people developed a reef-netting technology to gather their food, which was unique to their cultural area.Fishing and hunting sites were organized into areas that were “owned” by certain families and areas that were “open” to everyone. Historians found that the majority of sites were open resource areas.

The material culture and residential pattern of the Saanich people were oriented around the seasonal availability of ocean foodswithin their traditional lands. Some historians believe that Point Roberts was the summer fishery for the Saanich people whileGoldstream was the winter fishery (Ministry of Justice, 2013).


According to historical records, traditional Saanich housing comprised of 100 foot long cedar longhouses and they would house multiple families (Wonders, 2008). In 1932, artist Arthur Pitts created a painting of a 100 foot cedar longhouse on the Pauquachin reserve, which he referred to as “Llalam”. “Llalam” may be a variation of the Hul’qumi’num word for home, “lelum’”.
Cedar trees were an important resource for the Saanich people, as both their longhouses and dugout canoes were made from cedar. Saanich warriors defended this resource, as they fought against early colonial settlers who were cutting down cedars for milling at a nearby sawmill (Wonders, 2008).

The Pauquachin people continue to this day to be a resilient community who seek to build a healthy, self-reliant and economically strong community.

Historical Timeline

0 B.C.E
Archaeological records indicate that the Coast Salish people were here for at least 13,000 years.
0 A.D.
The first epidemic occurred through the introduction of infectious diseases, which caused massive demographic decline.
0 A.D.
Spanish explorer Jose Maria Narvaez led the first European exploration of the Georgia Strait. He drew a sketch of Vancouver
Island showing at least two Aboriginal settlements bordering Haro Strait.
0 A.D.
The Hudson’s Bay Company established Fort Victoria on Vancouver Island. Between 1846 and 1850, there were at least 11
encounters with Saanich people at the fort.
0 A.D.
James Douglas (Governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island) concluded 14 treaties with First Nations of Vancouver Island,
covering an area of 358 square miles or 229,120 acres.
0 A.D.
James Douglas transacted two treaties with the “North Saanich” and “South Saanich” where he endeavored to purchase
their interests in the Saanich Peninsula lands.
0 A.D.
The first reference to the Colonial reserve at Coles Bay comes in the Land Register for the North Saanich District. The lot
measures 100.38 acres and 100.62 acres.
0 A.D.
Indian Affairs surveyed 14 families on the Pauquachin reserve.
0 A.D.
Bighouse was damaged by a snowstorm.
0 A.D.
The second female chief, Rebecca Harris, is elected in Pauquachin.