Gunboat Frontier presents a fresh and different interpretation of Indian-white relations in nineteenth-century British Columbia. it focuses for the first time in detail on the interaction of West Coast Indians with British law and authority. This authority was exercised by officers, seamen, marines, and ships of the Royal Navy on behalf of the colonial governments of Vancouver Island and British Columbia, and, after 1871, of Canada.
The book contains new historical evidence provided by the Admiralty Papers–possibly the last, hitherto unused, major documents about nineteenth-century Northwest Coast Indian life. Drawing on these and other governmental and archival records and a wide range of secondary sources, the author chronicles encounters between the Royal Navy and the Indians over missions, piracies, native slavery, liquor trafficking, and crims against persons and property, leading to the last cases of “gunboat diplomacy” used against Northwest Coast Indians in the late 1880’s.