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Carvers of Kwakiutl: Totem Poles, Masks, Dugout Boats

Carvers of Kwakiutl: Totem Poles, Masks, Dugout Boats

The Kwakiutl First Nation Community is located on the North East Side of the Vancouver Island in Fort Rupert, BC. The area, including the surrounding areas is rich in Kwakiutl artwork and I had the opportunity to speak with 2 of its carvers.

David Mungo Knox, a direct descendant of Chief Mungo Martin (Nakapenkem) who is the son of Yaxnukwelas of Gilford Island.

David showed me around his shop located on the main level of his home, which is also the oldest home in Fort Rupert.  He was taking a break from carving due to a hand injury, but showed me some of this current works of art. 

We talked, told stories, had a few laughs and then he showed me
the incredible view from his backyard.

I then went to see Calvin Hunt, a descendant of renown ethnologist George Hunt.

Calvin Hunt (left)

Calvin was working on a totem pole that was commissioned by a museum in Phoenix Arizona. (below picture)

Off to the side, he was also working on this cedar drum, which was already hollowed out.  It will be used by several drummers at one time during ceremonies. (below picture) 

Calvin pointing to a set of stairs and said to go up and look around,
it was a studio filled with magnificent work!

At the back and under the shelter were a couple dug out traditional boats.  Do you recognize the one of the left?  Its the boat Calvin carved out and was used in the 2010 Olympics to carry the torch. 

More photos from today can be found here – A Visual Experience 


Kwakiutl First Nation – Fort Rupert BC (part 1)

Kwakiutl First Nation – Fort Rupert BC (part 1)

The Kwakiutl First Nation is also known as the Fort Rupert Band, and in traditional Kwakwaka’wakw terms as the Kwagu’ł or Kwagyewlth.

Located on the North East Side of Vancouver island in Fort Rupert, the Kwakiutl First Nation is a community that takes pride (and so it should) in their beautiful totem poles and handcrafted canoes that can be seen throughout the area.

Looking at these beautiful works of craftsmanship had me examining them even closer.  Although the totems are magnificent,  I wanted to capture a more personal look at these beautiful works of art by giving you close-up shots.  Check out all the photos I captured of the totem poles – A Visual Experience 




Port Hardy BC – A Playground of Wilderness Activities (Part 1)

Port Hardy BC – A Playground of Wilderness Activities (Part 1)

Port Hardy – A Playground of Wilderness Activities
Northern East Side of Vancouver Island BC

Although there are only 2 ways you can get to the island, Airplane or Boat, there are several routes to choose from.

After traveling by ferry to Nanaimo, you can take Highway 19 north to Port Hardy, which is the fastest way by vehicle, approx. 4 1/2 hour drive.

However, the more scenic route is following Highway 19a north as far as it will go, which is to Campbell River. From there, you’ll end up on Hwy 19 and continue on your way to Port Hardy. I prefer this route for its scenic drive and the small communities to explore along the way. It’s a much slower paced drive, but worth it. Have your camera handy!

Located on the most Northern East side of Vancouver Island BC, the community of Port Hardy sits along the ocean’s edge. It’s a population of approx. 4000 people which more than doubles during the summer months with tourists who want to experience the island’s many outdoor activities, i.e. Hiking, Whale Watching, Kayaking, Diving, Camping, Wild Life and much more.

One of the first things you should do is head to the Visitor Information Centre, located on the main road. You’ll discover a vast array of information that will guide you during your stay. The staff is very friendly and knowledgable as well, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and get their opinions, its well worth it.

Port Hardy is also represented by the nearby community of Fort Rupert & Kwakiutl First Nation. The Kwakiutl are known for their carvings, especially their magnificent totem poles.  I’ll be writing more on the Kwakiutl shortly, however check out the photos I captured so farKwakiutl: A Visual Experience

There are hiking trails in the immediate and surrounding area, but one of the most rugged and challenging hiking trails that attracts people from All Over the World to Port Hardy is the Cape Scott Trail / North Coast Trail – it will ultimately test your skill, endurance and exploration for days on end.   In order to get to the start of the trail, a boat will shuttle you to Cape Scott and from there…. you’re on your own.

During the early spring when the ice and snow is melting, there are sections of the trail that are very hazardous and it should not be attempted due to the flooding and impassible sections. For example…

I met Gabriel, a solo hiker from Paris France, who survived 2 days on the trail and had to turn back for safety reasons. He had been hiking in a section that is not recommended during the spring thaw because of the waist deep freezing water that floods part the trail on the most northern east section. He was completely drenched from the waist down, cold, and would have been stuck for several days in this environment. Lucky for him he was able to get out and return safely.

Vivian, a solo hiker of the Netherlands, decided not to try the trail, due to the flooding.

As you can tell, If you’re going to test yourself on this amazingly beautiful trail that is world renown, plan accordingly. Also note that you are in bear country, don’t take the warning lightly. Be aware and be safe.

Where to Stay – There are a couple hotels in Port Hardy, but the more popular places to stay is either the local hostel – North Coast Trail Hostel, or the many camping sites. Book ahead of time!

Although I happen to know the owners of the North Coast Trail Hostel , I promise to give you my unbiased opinion. The owners are super friendly! The hostel is very clean, comfortable and very well maintained. Its also much bigger than any pictures I’ve seen of it. You won’t be disappointed. There is a coffee / tea shop to get to know other travellers of all ages, share your stories, ideas, and a few laughs. 

A couple interesting facts …..

According to & – The “First currently known site of human habitation on Vancouver Island as discovered in an archeological dig in Port Hardy, dates back to circa 5850 BC”

The Carrot Campaign – Historical Site

Located right beside the Visitor Information Centre, a huge wooden carrot with a sign describing how the Government made a promise is 1897, but didn’t follow through until the late 1970’s.  The community felt that the government was dangling a carrot in front of them for all those years.

…. Part 2 coming soon …

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