Gaspar de Portola
July 1, 1989
Raymond Starr, Book Review Editor
Gaspar de Portola: Explorer and Founder of California.
By Boneu Companys. Translated and revised by Alan K. Brown. Lerida, Spain: Instituto de Estudios Ilerdenses, 1983. 404 Pages. Illustration. $42.97.
Gaspar de Portola is one of the almost lost figures of early California history. Commander of the expeditions which founded San Diego and Monterey in 1769-1770, he is seldom granted the position of a major founding father of European California. In an effort to spread Portola’s achievements “to the four winds,” F. Boneau Companys has written and Alan K. Brown has translated a large volume on Portola. The book contains almost a hundred pages of material on Portala’s geneology, accounts of his early career, his years in California, and his later career in Mexico and Spain. Of major importance is the inclusion of a translation of the journal of Miguel Costanso of the Portola expedition to Monterey, as well as translations of Portola’s own journal and many letters. Scattered throughout the book are many other documents or parts of documents. Thus Gaspar de Portola: Explorer and Founder of California becomes both an account of Portola’s career and a collection of source materials for further study of the period. As a result of the differences between American and European historiography, the book is somewhat confusing to use, and much of the story is a familiar one. There is, however, enough new material to make this book a “must” item for any research library on California in the eighteenth century. It can be ordered in the United States from the San Mateo County Historical Association, 1700 West Hillsdale Boulevard, San Mateo 94402.