Spanish Sub-Lt. Manuel Quimper, in command of the sloop Princesa Royale, took possession of the land at the entrance to Sooke Harbour in June of 1790, naming it Puerta de Revilla Gigedo, after the Viceroy of Mexico. Spain’s tenure was brief and in 1794 the land was under British rule. In 1990 the people of the Sooke region invited representatives from Spain to visit Sooke and celebrate a re-enactment of Quimper’s voyage from Port Renfrew to Sooke.
The journey was accomplished, with the co-operation of canoes of the T’Sou-ke First Nation, and met with an incredible community welcome at Whiffin Spit. The commemorative park at the base of Whiffin Spit was dedicated on that day, June 23, 1990, with the participation of Spain’s Ambassador to Canada.
In 1991, the four-masted Spanish flagship Juan Sebastian de Elcano sailed to British
Columbia, and Spain’s gift, a bust of Manuel Quimper, was unveiled to join the earlier commemorative monuments at the park.
This park, now named for Quimper, is maintained as a designated Regional Heritage site by SEAPARC. The actual site where Quimper planted the flag of possession is located on the opposite East Sooke shore, but because the land is privately held and accessible only by water, the decision was made to place the commemorative park where it could be enjoyed by the public.