HMS Hecate

HMS Hecate 1839 aground in 1861HMS Hecate, 1839 (aground in 1861)HMS Hecate was a 4-gun paddle sloop launched on 30 March 1839 from the Chatham Dockyard in England. She was one of three Hydra Class sloops built at this yard in Kent, England.

Hecate was assigned to the Mediterranean Station between 1840 and 1843 and participated in the Syrian War of 1840. After a period of being in reserve she served as part of the West Africa Squadron off that coast from 1845 until 1858. Fitted out for survey operations, she was assigned to the Pacific Station in 1860 and undertook charting and mapping along the British Columbia coast. Hecate Strait between the British Columbia mainland and the islands of Haida Gwaii is named for her, as is Hecate Park in Cowichan Bay. The vessel went on to Australia in 1863, where she undertook survey work in Botany Bay, Moreton Bay, the Brisbane River and Torres Strait before leaving in 1864.

She was paid off and sold for breaking in 1865.

While surveying Vancouver Island the Hecate made a voyage from Victoria in 1862 to what was then Harrisville and is now Cowichan Bay. On board were several of the pioneers who pre-empted land and settled in the Cobble Hill area. William Shearing and the Pimbury brothers Gus, Edwin, John and Philip were among the passengers who disembarked at Harrisville. William J. Shearing pre-empted land along what is now Telegraph Road, an area that included Douglas Hill to close to Cherry Point Road. The Pimburys farmed in the Thain Road area and local legend has it that they were responsible for importing seeds of the oxeye daisy from England to Vancouver Island where it became a noxious weed much hated by farmers. Although the Hecate made only one stop at Harrisville her influence on our community was a profound one.