Nations Tour Operators: Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands, Discovery Islands |
poles are wonderful examples of aboriginal art - the ancient practice of totem
carving has been handed down through generations as a way of preserving the history
of local native heritage as well as honouring tribal rituals and sacred spirits
are many ways to experience the rich culture and native heritage of British Columbia's
most fascinating people. There are annual powwows and a multitude of First Nations
cultural journeys in every corner of the province. The aboriginal peoples of B.C.
have maintained their diverse cultures by breathing life into ancient traditions
and customs and welcome all of us to experience it.
For your own explorations
of some of the best totem poles and aboriginal art on Vancouver Island follow
this suggested trail.
The Royal BC Museum, located in the inner harbour
area of Victoria, has an extensive collection of native exhibits and remarkable
artifacts, including a ceremonial Big House and a collection of some of the oldest
totem poles and greet figures (welcome poles) ever collected and preserved.
adjacent to the Royal BC Museum, displays a collection of totem poles of the First
Nations of coastal British Columbia.
In 1956, renowned Kwakwaka'wakw
artist Mungo Martin and his team raised the world's tallest free-standing totem
pole - at 38.8 metre (128 foot) located in Beacon Hill
Native history and culture are apparent throughout Duncan, the "City of Totems."
A short stroll south from the museum, there are 41 intriguing totem poles to see
on the self-guided walking tour - just follow the yellow footprints on Duncan's
sidewalks, which provide a path through the sites - and the fascinating world
of totem poles.
Quw'utsun' Cultural and Conference Centre, in
downtown Duncan, recreates the history and traditions of the coastal people in
its buildings, displays and excellent presentations. Under the roof of a large
carving shed, totem poles take shape; visitors may view work in progress.
The Eagle Aerie Gallery located in Tofino displays interior totem poles and works
of art by renowned artist Roy Vickers.
River: The rich native heritage of Campbell River is proudly displayed in
the Campbell River Museum, which features a fine display of contemporary native
masks and ceremonial items.
poles can be viewed at various sites throughout Campbell River: Tyee Plaza Shopping
Centre, Foreshore Park, Coast Discovery Inn and Discovery Harbour Centre.
Island: The Nuyumbalees Cultural Center (formerly Kwagiulth Museum and Cultural
Center) at Cape Mudge, on Quadra Island, displays an impressive collection of
masks, potlatch regalia and other ceremonial objects associated with winter dances.
These are some of the items that have filtered back from private collections
over the years, after the Government of Canada first outlawed the ceremony in
the early part of the 20th century.
Bay: The U'mista Cultural Centre at Alert Bay, on Cormorant Island, houses
one of the finest collections of historical artifacts and elaborately carved masks
depicting the Potlatch Ceremony of the Kwakwaka'wakw people.
Government outlawed the ceremony of the Potlatch in 1884 and authorities began
to seize ceremonial regalia, including masks, rattles, robes and coppers. These
ceremonies, which mark important occasions such as births, marriages, deaths or
the transfer of names, were forced underground following this ruling. After more
than 65 years, the confiscated items were returned from museums and private collections
throughout North America.
on the northern end of Cormorant Island, on the outskirts of the Nimpkish Reserve
at Alert Bay, stands the world's tallest totem pole at a height of 52.7 metres
(173 feet) - the totem is comprised of two parts. Unlike most totem poles, which
are specific to a particular family, the thirteen figures depicted on this pole
represent many of the tribes of the Kwakwaka'wakw nation.
collection of memorial poles may be viewed from the roadway at the Namgis Burial
Grounds at Alert Bay.
Twelve Coast Salish totems look out over Trail Bay, at Sechelt on the Sunshine
Coast. These totem poles recount the history of the Sechelt Nation, the first
band in Canada to achieve self-government.
Nations Tour Operators: Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands, Discovery Islands
More Information: Totem
Poles in British Columbia