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Port McNiell to Hanson Island via Alert BayGo to Slide Show

Our first day on the boat, we traveled East of Port McNiell to Alert Bay.  Alert Bay is a small town on Cormorant Island with a proud native community.  After Alert Bay we continued east into the Broughton Straight (looking for whales) and then up to Hanson Island for an overnight Anchorage.

Western Alert Bay

Coming into Alert Bay you notice two things - the Big House and the brick building towering behind it.  We laid anchor in the eastern end of the bay and took the Zodiak in.   We walked up from the wharf to the U'mista Cultural Centre.  The center is part museum part school part community center.  The highlight of the museum is the "Potlatch Collection" - artifacts that were used for traditional potlatches that were seized by the government in 1921 when the Potlatch was banned (in 1884).  Most of the seized items were held in the Museum of Canada and they were returned in 1988.  The collection (mostly masks) are arranged as they would appear in a potlatch ceremony.  Very cool (but not photographs allowed). 

Door CarvingResidential School/Hospital/...

We started our walk east toward town.  After some homes and a cannery you come to docks and the ferry terminal.  Most people come to Alert Bay by ferry (from Port McNiell - it's $5.50 return).  On the front of the ferry I noticed a large black painting (it's not BC Ferries standard) and at the end of the dock was a large sign welcoming people - the same art as the ferry.  Pretty cool.

Ferry into Alert BayWelcome Sign

The town itself is old and has lots of character.  The island has about 1500 permanent residents (+ the summer tourists) so Alert Bay has a number of retail outlets - grocery stores, pubs and ice cream cones!  For the tourists there is bike rentals, a hotel and a really nice info center.  We continued walking east and came to the 'Namgis Burial Grounds.

Town Directory in Alert BayBench by Bike Rental StoreDowntown Alert Bay

'Namgis Burial Grounds, Alert Bay
Nimpkish Burial Grounds

Living in Victoria I had seen many totem poles but they rarely moved me.  The totems in museums are generally in pristine condition, sterile and removed from their context.   Seeing the totems in the 'Namgis Burial Grounds gave them a sense of purpose and relayed a story about people I would never meet.   When I got back from the trip, I did some digging and found an excellent book by Hilary Stewart called "Looking at Totem Poles".  A few of the poles in the 'Namgis Burial Grounds are listed:

Thunderbird on DzunukwaThunderbird on Dzunukwa

This pole is a Memorial to Billie Moon.  The pole was carved by Willie Seaweed and Joe Seaweed in Blunden Harbour in 1931.  The top figure is Thunderbird and figure below is Dzunukwa, "a female with sleepy eyes, Pursed lips and pendulous breasts."

Jonathan Hunt's TotemJonathan Hunt's Totem

The pole was carved by Tony Hunt (Jonathan's grandson) with Calvin Hunt, John Livingston and Peter Knox.  The top figure is Kolus followed by Cedar Man holding a copper, beneath is Sun in Human form, also holding a copper. The bottom is the killer whale, head turned downward.  Jonathan Hunt was a good friend of Mungo Martin and his totem is similar.

Mungo Martin's TotemMungo Martin's Totem

The pole was carved by Henry Hunt and Tony Hunt.  Mungo Martin is one of the hero's in the Kwakiutal society - he was a prolific totem carver and one of the important links that brought the traditional artistic skills and knowledge out of the banned pot latch era.  This totem pole was the first totem raised in Alert bay in 40 years. The top figure is Kolus followed by Cedar Man with a talking stick.  The second from bottom figure is Raven - caved in memory of David his son.  The bottom figure is Dzunukwa, the crest of Mungo's wife.

Other poles aren't listed and unfortunately there isn't a plaque or sign there to describe the poles.  A Totem Poles brochure describing figures on poles and artist is available at the Alert Bay Info Centre.

Missing Eagle Arm TotemGiant Halibut TotemNew and Old Totem

Having seen most of Alert bay, we returned to the boat and left for the next adventure.  We traveled east in the Broughton straight looking for whales.  There was a day opening for commercial salmon fishing coming up so there was lots of commercial boat traffic in the straight.  We passed a fishing resort (Double Bay) and came to our anchorage - a small bay just past double bay.

Fish Boat (Gunnie II)Cash Boat - ShimoigetDouble Bay Resort

Our anchorage (unnamed as far as I can tell) had a few boats already rafted in the harbour.  We laid anchor (the 200 ton Curve of Time needs a pretty firm anchorage) and set off in Kayaks to explore the area.  A short kayak around the rocks and the kelp and we came back for dinner and great sunset.

Raft in HarbourKayaks in WaterFishing At SunsetSunset with a view of Spout Islet

Next: Nigei Island

Welcome Sign
Tags: native art, small town
Kayaks in Water
Tags: coast, kayak
Thunderbird on Dzunukwa
Tags: art, native art, totem pole
Jonathan Hunt's Totem
Tags: art, native art, totem pole
Door Carving
Tags: art, native art
Giant Halibut Totem
Tags: art, native art, totem pole
Cash Boat - Shimoiget
Tags: boat
Missing Eagle Arm Totem
Tags: art, native art, totem pole
New and Old Totem
Tags: art, native art, totem pole
Fishing At Sunset
Tags: coast, fishing
Raft in Harbour
Tags: boat
Fish Boat (Gunnie II)
Tags: boat
Town Directory in Alert Bay
Tags: small town
Sunset with a view of Spout Islet
Tags: coast, sunset
Residential School/Hospital/...
Tags: field
Downtown Alert Bay
Tags: house, small town
Western Alert Bay
Tags: small town
Bench by Bike Rental Store
Tags: small town
Nimpkish Burial Grounds
Location: Go To...
Tags: totem pole
Double Bay Resort
Tags: fishing, resort
Ferry into Alert Bay
Tags: ferry, small town
Mungo Martin's Totem
Tags: art, native art, totem pole
Tags: native art(8), art(7), totem pole(7), small town(6), boat(3), coast(3)
From: John Harvey Photo > Mid Coast of BC on the Curve of Time > Port McNiell to Hanson Island via Alert Bay
From: John Harvey Photo > John's Overnight Page > Mid Coast of BC on the Curve of Time > Port McNiell to Hanson Island via Alert Bay
From: John Harvey Photo > John's Overnight Page > Port Mc Neill > Port McNiell to Hanson Island via Alert Bay

u dont give any details on the totem poles

Thursday, May 19th, 2011 at 15:40:58

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