Passage Island was named in 1786 by Captain Portlock. The island was at the entrance of what was mistakenly thought to be a strait leading out to sea.
In the early 1900s, John Herbert established a fox farm on Passage Island for the fur trade. The foxes were fed local fish and marine mammals and ran loose around the island until they were ready to give birth. About a decade later, John retired, and the island became a mink ranch. An average pelt sold for eight dollars; when it closed, the owner sold off practically everything. Since then, the island has been virtually untouched.