History & Culture

A black and white photo of many English soldiers by a tree. There is a bay in the background and a white small building
Royal Marines pose at English camp just before their departure in December of 1872

For thousands of years, the Northern Straits region has been home to Coast Salish peoples. The temperate climate, rich soil, abundant timber, and the bounty of the sea fostered an advanced civilization that continues to thrive in our region. These resources and the way the Tribes transformed our landscape to be even more abundant is what also attracted Europeans to the islands. San Juan Island is most known for being the site of the Pig War disagreement between America and Britain. This dispute was the culmination of more than three centuries of contention over the land and resources of the Pacific Northwest.

In these pages we encourage you to get “beyond the bacon”. Our park preserves many other histories in addition to its military occupation. Explore the imperial history that led America and Britain to come to the brink of war over who would own this Indigenous land. Learn about the Hawaiian immigrants who worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company. Find out about the homesteaders who moved to San Juan Island during and after the Pig War. Examine the long history of extractive industry which began with the Royal Marines who operated the island’s first lime kilns.

Learn more about the still-unfolding history that has shaped life on San Juan Island.

  • Sepia toned photograph of a young man in inset paper

    Jimmie Pickett, the half Haida son of American Camp commander George Pickett, is one of many people who are part of San Juan Island history

  • Color photo of a park ranger watching men in red coat uniforms raise an English flag

    English Camp is one of the historic and natural places that delight visitors to San Juan Island

  • Black and white photograph of an elderly man holding wool

    Jim Crook lived almost his entire life at English Camp and was vital to preserving our history. His is one of many stories we share.

Last updated: October 16, 2022

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Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 429
Friday Harbor, WA 98250


360 378-2240

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