Deadman Island is a 3.8 ha island to the south of Stanley Park in Coal Harbour in Vancouver, British Columbia. The indigenous Squamish name is "skwtsa7s", meaning simply "island." Officially designated "Deadman Island" by the Geographical Names Board of Canada in 1937, it is commonly referred to as Deadman's Island. It has been a battle site, a native tree-burial cemetery, smallpox and squatter settlement in its long history. Today it is the site of Vancouver's Naval Reserve Division, HMCS Discovery. While the island is DND Property that is leased to the City of Vancouver it is subject to land title claims of the Musqueam Nation.
One of Vancouver's first white settlers, John Morton, visited the island in 1862. Morton discovered hundreds of red cedar boxes lashed to the upper boughs of trees and one had evidently fallen and broken to reveal a jumble of bones and a tassel of black hair. The island was the tree-burial grounds of the Squamish people. Undeterred, Morton took a fancy to the island and attempted to acquire it. He changed his mind when Chief Capilano pointed out that the island was "dead ground" and was a scene of a bloody battle between rival tribes in which some two hundred warriors were killed. It's said that "fire-flower" grew up at once where they fell, frightening the foe into retreat. The macabre name of the island is thought to reflect this history, although the Squamish name is simply skwtsa7s, meaning "island."
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