• American Camp parade ground looking west

    San Juan Island

    National Historical Park Washington

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  • English Camp Visitor Contact Station on Winter Schedule

    The English Camp visitor contact station in the Royal Marine Barracks is closed for the season, starting September 2. Grounds are open daily from dawn to 11 p.m.

  • American Camp Visitor Center on Winter Schedule

    The American Camp visitor center is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from September 2 to June 6, 2015. Grounds remain open daily from dawn to 11 p.m. Telephone 360-378-2240, ext. 2227 or 2226 for information. More »


Re-enactor Simon Sherwood of Victoria, BC, shares stories of the Royal Marines Camp with visitors during Encampment 2004 at English Camp. Every summer re-enactors gather at English Camp most weekends.
NPS Photo

"Charles Griffin probably heard it before he saw it. There was no mistaking that sound at mid-nineteenth century. Steamers could be detected from miles away, the great cylinders panting and clanking over the flat, gray inland seas with the steady thump of bass drums. As he later noted in his journal it was between 8 and 9 p.m., Tuesday, July 26, 1859."

It had been a beautiful evening, typical of the island in midsummer. A southwest breeze made the prairie grasses shimmer in a golden reflection of the silver waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca below the headlands a quarter mile from his cabin porch. Looking south across the strait, the snow-capped Olympic mountains rose from a bank of clouds, effacing a sky beginning to turn salmon, while directly west, Victoria was locked in a haze of wood smoke from slash being burned to make room for the rapidly growing British colony. It had been nearly six years since Vancouver Island Governor James Douglas had dispatched Griffin to San Juan Island. His orders were to establish Belle Vue Sheep Farm as a unit of the Hudson's Bay Company. The governor, who then also ran the Hudson's Bay post at Victoria, hoped the farm would entrench Great Britain's claim to the island. An ambiguity in the language of the Oregon Treaty of 1846, which set the international boundary between the United States and Great Britain at the Forty-ninth Parallel, had placed the San Juan Islands in limbo. Both nations claimed them and thirteen years later the dispute remained unresolved..."

-- Michael Vouri, The Pig War: Standoff at Griffin Bay (Copyright 2006)

Did You Know?

Capt. Geoffrey Phipps Hornby, RN

Capt. Geoffrey Phipps Hornby of HMS Tribune refused Governor James Douglas’s orders to land Royal Marines on San Juan Island realizing that his opposite, Capt. George Pickett, would open fire. The policy of the Royal Navy was only to fire if fired upon. More...