The history of Camano Island – Part II

A couple of weeks ago I asked the question, “Have you Ever Wondered Why It’s Called Camano Island?” But I glanced over the final change to the name of Camano.

As part II of this Camano Island history, let’s explore how we actually got the name, Camano Island!

The Pacific Northwest is known for honoring the native people with names of town, lakes, and rivers.  How on earth, then, did the decidedly Spanish (I mean isn’t it obvious?) name of Camano come to our little island?  For that we go back to the history lesson (no eye-rolling please, you know who you are).

We know from Part I that when Charles Wilkes a.k.a. Captain Ahab chartered Washington and Oregon area coasts beginning in 1838, he named it Macdonough Island.

In 1847, the island’s name was changed again by Henry Kellett, this time to “Camano” (Aha! Now we’re getting somewhere), which is a westernized spelling of the name Caamaño. This was to honor the Spanish explorer Jacinto Caamaño Moraleja, who was one of the first non-native people to travel the area.  Caamaño was based out of a port in what is now Mexico, and sailed up the western coast.  He travelled as far north as what is now known as Prince of Wales Island in Alaska several times during the 1790s, mapping the coastline and naming landmarks along the way.

Many of the names of inlets and bays found along the western coast were given names by Caamaño, and some still remain today.   In addition to our island, Caamaño is also honored in Canada with his name gracing a small body of water off the coast of British Columbia.

Camano Island’s name honors the man who was one of the first to explore this part of the world, making it possible for others to follow in his footsteps and enjoy the beauty and bounty of the Pacific Northwest, including our very own Camano Island.

What’s in a name, you ask? Well, there you go.

Signed — Jan Mather, your Caamaño Island Expert! 360-507-4133

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One Comment on “The history of Camano Island – Part II”

  1. Candace Marie Caamano says:

    As a Caamano myself, I appreciate your research and knowledge of the island’s history.

    -Candace Marie Caamano


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