Peter Friday

Peter Friday, a native of Hawaii, entered service with the Hudson’s Bay Company from O’ahu in 1841, working initially at Cowlitz Farm until 1843 as a middleman before moving to Fort Victoria. He returned twice to O’ahu, on the barque Cowlitz in 1845, and, on the Mary Dare in 1849. Upon returning to the Pacific Northwest, Friday took up service at Fort Rupert between 1850 and 1852 before he was transferred as a farmer to San Juan Island. He worked at San Juan Island (1852-1857) and Belle Vue sheep farm (1857-1860), where in 1860 he began farming on his own, having left the Puget Sound Agricultural Company.

He and his son, Joseph, are referred to in Charles J. Griffin’s San Juan Journal as “Friday & his son.” While shepherds were paid £ 25 or less, in 1858 Friday’s son was paid £ 5 per annum and half rations. Barman and Watson remark that Friday’s Hawaiian name may have been ‘Poalina’ or a translation of Hawaiian for Friday, ‘Polaie,’ though this spelling is not found in Hawaiian dictionaries. Friday may have taken the Christian name of ‘Peter’ either during the 1850’s, or when he converted to Catholicism in order to marry. In 1870, Friday was married to Mary [Saaptenar] (ca. 1834-1926), a Songhees woman, in a Catholic ceremony, and they had four children: Mary (1860-1912), Lazare (1866-1883), John (1872-1902), and Emma (1875-1906). An earlier son, Joseph (ca. 1844-1895) was born to Peter and an unknown First Nation’s woman, perhaps at Cowlitz Farm. Joseph’s signature attests to the family ascribing to a school on San Juan Island in 1864, where the children enrolled.

The eponymous geographical feature, ‘Friday Harbor’, on San Juan Island, is regarded as the location of Peter Friday’s homestead where he tended sheep for the Hudson’s Bay Company. Following the ‘Pig War’ over the San Juan Islands, the Islands were resolved favourably to the U.S. in 1872, and many of the Hawaiians left for British Columbia, particularly Salt Spring Island as their status under U.S. law deemed them as Indians and non-citizens. As Joseph Friday had been born in Washington Territory, he was considered American, and the family remained on their homestead. A petition in 1872 was submitted for the land in Joseph’s name. An 1880 U.S. census indicates Peter lost the “use of one leg” due to syphilis, after which he moved to Victoria. British Columbia Vital Statistics records document Peter passing away on 11th April, 1894, and was buried two days later at Ross Bay Cemetery, Victoria (Section D, plot 8, West side, row number 24). Mary (Peter’s wife) was buried at the Ross Bay Cemetery (Section V, plot 15b16, East side, row 52) in 1926. Peter Friday’s name appears 29 times in the Fort Victoria Journal from May 1846 until July 1848. The majority of these entries are concerned with identifying servants of the Fort, Hawaiians, and others, on the sick list.


  • Barman, Jean, “New Land, New Lives: Hawaiian Settlement in British Columbia,” The Hawaiian Journal of History, Vol. 29 (1995): 1-32. JL29007.pdf?sequence=1 .
  • Barman, Jean and Bruce Watson, Leaving Paradise: Indigenous Hawaiians in the Pacific Northwest. (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2006).
  • Griffin, Charles J, “Belle Vue Sheep Farm Post Journals, 1858.” San Juan Island, National Historical Park. (no date). .
  • Pratt, Boyd C., “Belle Vue Sheep Farm,” San Juan Island, National Historical Park. (no date). http://www. .
  • Pratt, Brenda C., “Thank God It’s Still Friday—The Story of Friday Harbor’s Namesake,” Historic Friday Harbor on San Juan Island Washington. (November 18, 2013). blog/thank-god-its-still-friday-the-story-of-friday-harbors-namesake/
  • Ross Bay Cemetery Search .
Frederick Gentz