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Origin of European Settled Masset

In 1791, an American Ship, The Columbia, hove into Masset Sound. Hoskins, the ship’s clerk, wrote “Captain Crowell has named this fine waterway, Hancock River. This was named after Crowell’s ship the Hancock and the Governor of Massachusetts, Mr. John Hancock. However, it is called by the natives “Masheet”.

A story told in Haida today of how the name Masheet came into existence says that one of the first ships to come into Masset Harbour anchored off what is now the Village of Masset. One of the officers, a man named Masseta, died and was buried on the little island off which the ship lay anchored. The Haida called the Island after him, however, finding it too difficult to pronounce, corrupted the word to “mah-sh-t”. From this, in 1878, George M. Dawson, a geologist and naturalist well known in this vicinity, named the island “Maast”, saying as he did that he felt this island has been the origin of the name “Masset”.

Masset townsite was originally named Graham City after the president of the Graham Steamship owned by the Coal and Lumber Company and Benjamin Graham. When the township plan was registered on July 30, 1907 it was deposited under the name of Masset. Government officials were unaware of the settlement two miles north, Haida Masset, and accepted the transfer. On June 7, 1909, the name Masset was adopted and Graham City dropped.

Located on Northern Graham Island’s Masset Sound, the town faces Northwest towards Dixon Entrance and the Pacific Rim.

The Queen Charlotte Islands/Haida Gwaii, 450 miles north of Vancouver and 80 miles west of Prince Rupert are the most westerly islands in Canada and have been home to the Haida Indians for at least 8000 years. The Queen Charlotte Islands were the first place in British Columbia discovered and recorded by European, Juan Perez in July 1774. Fur traders were the only visitors for the next 100 years. Missions were first established just over 100 years ago and white settlers arrived in the early 1900’s.

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