Thursday's Child: Duncan, British Columbia

Thursday, February 9, 2012
This month I’m writing about outdoor art that we’ve seen on our travels.  One of these wonderful displays appears in our own country.

We won’t forget the totem poles in Duncan, a town on southern Vancouver Island in British Columbia.  We visited in March 2002, on a trip to take the girls to visit their grandfather (my father-in-law) who was living in Nanaimo.  The trip was memorable for several reasons.  It was our younger daughter’s first airplane trip, and it was the first time either of the girls had seen the Pacific Ocean.

We stopped in Duncan on our way to Nanaimo and were rewarded by this amazing town dedicated to the art of the totem.  With over eighty on display, Duncan is known as the Town of Totems. Some of them were carved by local native artists, such as the widest totem in the world, Cedar Man Holding Talking Stick, by First Nations artist Richard Hunt.  Others have been purchased from elsewhere in Canada and across the world, coming from as far away as New Zealand.  One totem was carved specifically in honour of Rick Hansen, the Man in Motion.

The day was uncharacteristically cold, so our trip was brisk.  Andrew bought a duck hunter’s hat from a local outdoor shop in an attempt to keep warm, and perhaps to audition for a future totem.  My youngest daughter insisted on leading the way for our family along the city’s yellow-footed path.
It's hard to believe that this visit happened ten years ago next month.  Where does the time go? The little girls in this photo are now teenagers, and they've been on a number of plane trips.  But no matter where their future travels take them,  I'm sure they'll always remember the wonderful totem poles of Duncan, British Columbia.


27 comments:

Joanne said...

wow those totems are gorgeous! It's amazing they've withstood all sorts of weather conditions, being outside. Also amazing how time flies. :P

Valerie said...

For some reason I've always been drawn to British Columbia. It's so beautiful and, in a way, strangely exotic. The totems are gorgeous...what a history they must have!

Sometimes I still think that 10 years ago was the still the 1990's.

Carol said...

Love the totems. very expressive and colorful. That middle one looks so fierce. Looks like a fun and very memorable visit.

Joanne said...

What a fascinating art form. And you just know that the art of each totem must be filled with such a rich story to tell.

Yummy said...

What fun looking totems!

Belinda said...

There is something so magical about that part of the world. I used to have the biggest fascination with totems. I had my whole Social Studies class make them as my "lesson." I collected toilet paper rolls for a month.

Barbara said...

Totems are always fascinating; I bet the kids (now adults!) had a great time. The white one in the background looks unusual.

Pam said...

I love totems... looks like a fun trip.

Kayte said...

Have you read Susan Vreeland's book about these totems? It's a fiction, but a fun read, interesting subject. It's called The Forest Lover. Loved the photo of the girls beside the totem!

Sudha said...

Such a lovely memoir, Beth - it always feels so warming when you think of times so long back and all the fun you had.And if you have photos to go with that,nothing like it!Thanks for our share in your tour of Duncan - how I love traveling with you to one corner or the other every Thursday:)
Sudha
Ongoing Event - 'Love for
Lentils'

Lizzy said...

We lived in Vancouver for a year when I was in high school...and I'm surprised we never made it to Duncan! I think we hit every other site in the area. Such fun memories for you~

Beth said...

Kayte, I don't know that book but I'll look it up. It sounds great.

Belinda, I'm dying to see the totem your class made. Please tell me you'll post it on your blog someday!

cookingmisadventures.com said...

Living in the Seattle area, I get to enjoy these works of art all the time - and probably take them for granted. :)

Pacheco Patty said...

We made a trip to British Columbia as a family back in the day and I still remember the dramatic beauty of the totem poles, thanks for sharing;-)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I've been to Vancouver Island, but that's because my husband's family lives in northern BC, and that's one way to get there (via Ferry).

The Golden Eagle said...

Those are interesting totem poles!

Mary said...

Wow, that is a spectacular totem pole! I love that your girls have grown up traveling so much. What an awesome gift.

Elaine said...

I have always been fascinated by totem poles and I had no idea that there was a town devoted to them. What a fun visit that must have been!

tenaciouslyyours.com said...

I am loving the Totem Poles. Truth: I've always dreamed of seeing one up close and personal. And it would be fascinating to learn more about the symbolism/design aesthetic as well. In terms of an art form, they're definitely not The Easy Way Out. You know?

Claudia said...

The totem poles are just stunning - such artistry! I do look back at trips and marvel at the years that have passed - but they seem like yesterday. I remember the first time my kids saw the Atlantic Ocean and a year later - the Pacific. ("Sweet" was their intonation).

Jemi Fraser said...

Gorgeous photos. Totems are fascinating! I'd love to get out that way one day!

Jeanne said...

Totems are such incredible forms of art. I'd love to visit BC and see them in person!

bakewithjill.com said...

How neat. I've been to Nanaimo, but either didn't go through Duncan or didn't notice it. Next time!

Unknown said...

So cool Beth, I worked on restoring this caboose at the Duncan Museum last summer, after which it received a fresh lick of paint. Duncan was also home of renowned painter,E.J. Hughes.His whimsical dipictions of shipping and Shawnigan Lake are well recognized on the west coast.

Raina said...

Those must have been incredible to see in person, so much detail. No doubt your girls have loads of wonderful memories that they will always cherish....they were so cute!

Jill | Dulce Dough said...

Beautiful totem poles! I had no idea there was an entire town devoted to the art of totem poles!

Rita said...

We spend March in Victoria BC and this year we have been talking of going to Duncan for this reason; thank you for sharing Beth.
Last year our kids came to see us and we went to Nanaimo.
Rita

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