The Men with Wooden Feet: The Spanish Exploration of the Pacific Northwest


168 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-920053-37-8





Reviewed by Barry M. Gough

Barry M. Gough is a history professor at Wilfrid Laurier University and
author of The Northwest Coast: British Navigation, Trade, and
Discoveries to 1812.


This is not serious history but rather an investigation into history — a long essay, perhaps. The author’s appreciation of the Spanish period of Pacific history is apparent, and he has familiarized himself with some of the relevant Spanish sources. Yet, I could not help but make the invidious comparison to the great Warren Cook’s Floodtide of Empire — as of yet, still the bible. On the British side, Kendrick seems unaware of my Distant Dominion and the more extensive explanation there as to British designs to curtail Spanish interests in the area now known as British Columbia.

Nor does Kendrick really pose the issues. What is he trying to say? His work is best when he is describing his own responses to the past, somewhat reminiscent of Ivan Doig’s splendid Winter Brothers. After visiting Friendly Cove, Kendrick muses (p.96): “I wondered what I could write. I am not qualified to argue with the scholars or to express an expert opinion on what the Indians have told me. I decided I could say this, and I think it is important to do so: this is how it appeared to the Spaniards, this is what they told us, and to this extent it is supported by the findings at Ozette, by the words of the modern Indian language, and by the legends and ceremonies as they are remembered today by the Indian people.” I did not really find that Kendrick had met the terms of his own demanding mandate but perhaps (and fortunately so) essays do not have to do that.


Kendrick, John, “The Men with Wooden Feet: The Spanish Exploration of the Pacific Northwest,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 19, 2024,