Sisiutl for Sale
I was browsing to price out some used skiffs, and look what I found – a custom built archaeological research vessel — only $99,000. (I wonder what she cost to build?) The listing is here, with a PDF backup for posterity here.
I don’t have any memories of the Sisiutl — never stepped on board — but I know she is close to the hearts of many SFU faculty and former students.
Posted in Archaeology, fieldwork, history, Northwest Coast, Teaching
Tagged Archaeology, boats, fieldwork, research, SFU, Simon Fraser University, Sisiutl
Cropped screenshot of detail of cairn marking Sahsima, south Oak Bay. Source: Burnt Embers blog; click to visit.
I recently have started following a wonderful new blog called Burnt Embers. It’s mostly a photo blog of the author’s surroundings – which appear to be deepest south Oak Bay, which is a municipality adjacent to Victoria, B.C. It’s a wealthy municipality not really known for being sensitive to archaeological concerns or First Nations history: for example, it’s the locale of the rather messy Esplanade controversy I documented last year (1, 2, 3).
Anyway, the blogger at Burnt Embers, one “ehpem”, has recently done a great service by bringing to light a series of attractive cairns, emblazoned with art by Tsartlip artist Charles Elliot (Temoseng), which pay tribute to Songhees and Straits Salish places, history, and names. As ehpem points out, Oak Bay Council has erected these cairns but provides no other information about them, whether on their website or anywhere else. They’ve been sort of bolted onto the Oak Bay landscape. No matter: ehpem has photographed them beautifully and assembled a great series of pages documenting each one and also created a google map which is really handy for getting around from cairn to cairn. The cairns are, in the order which ehpem documents them:
Sahsima – a transformer stone near the Chinese Cemetery. Sahsima, meaning “harpoon”, was the original name identified by Songhees elder James Fraser for the point where the Chinese Cemetery is located: Hayls the Transformer, with spirit companions, Raven and Mink, came by in his canoe, frightening away the seal the harpooner had been stalking. The harpooner rebuked them, Hayls turned him to stone as he stood there poised to throw the harpoon, saying “You’ll be the boss for seals … from Sooke to Nanaimo.” Continue reading
Posted in anthropology, Archaeology, First Nations, history, Vancouver Island
Tagged blogs, burnt embers, Charles Elliot, Lekwungen, Oak Bay, photography, Salish, Songhees, Straits Salish, Temoseng, Victoria BC
Unidentified Musqueam Chief as portrayed by Cardero in 1792. Source: Vancouver Sun.
The City of Vancouver had its 125th anniversary yesterday, and the local press was full of reflective pieces on civic leaders, famous visitors, notable crimes and, of course, sports. Well, it would be churlish not to wish Vancouver Happy Birthday! Well done, Vancouverites. But in all the coverage of this momentous event, I only see one single article which acknowledges that people might have lived at the mouth of the Fraser River for a tad longer than 125 years. And a curious article (PDF) it is: Ancient history of Vancouver’s first peoples: The city’s history predates its 1886 founding, with a native midden dating back 9,000 years
3-D Sonar Scan of A.J. Goddard historic sternwheeler from Yukon. Source: Montreal Gazette.
A year or two ago, the well-preserved wreck of the Klondike-era paddlewheeler A.J. Goddard was found in Lake Lebarge on the Yukon River. The find (which is now protected) got a lot of attention because of the ghostly images (click on the very high resolution pop-up ones here) as much as the historical significance. The wreck was recently in the news again because divers had found some vinyl phonograph records which had the potential to be played. Listening to the music of the dead crewmen of a ship evocative of the Cremation of Sam McGee would create close, perhaps emotional, connection with these poor unfortunates.
Being made of stern stuff (heh) what I am more interested in is the intriguing sonar image (above) that accompanied the mainstream press coverage. The phonograph is cool, but archaeologically the more significant development are the new technologies being used on wrecks in general and some Yukon wrecks in particular.
I found more images and a very short article at Wired magazine and they are worth a look, as is much of the background info from the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA), which includes a photo gallery. Edit: you can view a nice video of BluView and OceanGate’s sonar model of the wreck here.
Posted in Archaeology, history, Northwest Interior, underwater archaeology
Tagged historical archaeology, LiDAR, paddlewheelers, shipwrecks, Sonar, underwater archaeology, Yukon, Yukon River
Sooke Freight! Vancouver Daily Post, 1865.
Via the Northwest History blog, I recently found that Google has been quietly archiving a large number of historical newspapers, including many defunct ones from the west. Old newspapers are a rich source of social history and can fill in some details of everyday life in the early historical period. For example, it still costs me about 2 & 1/2 cents per pound to get my sorry self from Victoria to Leech River. Or, see the table below from 1864 recounting the travel time and cost by stage or foot from New Westminster to the Columbia River. That’s better history than some dumb vote of useless politicians.
As Larry Cebula at Northwest History points out, Google has buried this feature somewhat. There is a master list of all newspapers here, though, and you can work your way through that. Many of the newspaper names are cryptic, though, and since I usually do the grunt work for you, here are some of the historic, often defunct, newspapers of particular interest to readers of this blog:
"Progressive Victoria" about to run over the Songhees. Was there ever a Songhees man with feathers in his hair, fringed buckskin, and a peace pipe? Source: Vincent's Victoria.
I mentioned it in a comment the other day so you may have seen it already, but there are a couple of great posts at the blog “Vincent’s Victoria“. The first post is the already-mentioned review of John Lutz’s talk “Getting the Indians Out of Town: Race and Space in Victoria’s History” – Victoria, British Columbia, that is, better known as World Headquarters to this blog. In Vincent’s post we find out about the slow process by which First Nations had their presence in the city core steadily reduced, mainly by moving the reserves, but through other means too. The post then discusses the “Signs of Lekwungen” project which I posted on before. it’s really a shame I didn’t hear about John’s talk until after he had given it – there are other talks in the series but his would have been the most interesting to regular readers here.
The second post is extremely interesting, as it uses editorial cartoons from the Victoria Daily Times newspaper to tell the story of the movement of the Songhees reserve in 1910.
Posted in archives, First Nations, history, Northwest Coast, Vancouver Island
Tagged archives, british columbia, Esquimalt, First Nations, Northwest Coast, Songhees, Victoria BC, Victoria Daily Times
Part of the Charles Sampson collection from Salt Spring Island. Source: saltspringarchives.com
Salt Spring Island is a large island in the Salish Sea, close to Vancouver Island’s southeast corner (map). Quite a while ago I highlighted the photographs of the “Bob Akerman” museum, which comes via the comprehensive Salt Spring Island archives. There are a few other photo records of archaeological collections there which I thought were worth a quick look. For example, the picture above from the Charles Sampson Collection shows some fairly spectacular ground slate points to the left, and what may be a Charles phase (ca. 4,000 year old) contracting stem point to the bottom right. It’s not just archaeological collections that the archives has going for it, though. Continue reading
Mossback's column at Crosscut.com
Some time ago I mentioned Seattle’s reporter on the “Heritage Beat”, Knute Berger, who posts by the name Mossback. Over the summer, while I was gone, mossback produced a really to-the-point column on heritage preservation: Help wanted: A ‘Sierra Club’ for historic preservation to fight development. Unusually for heritage conservation advocates, Mossback cares as much about indigenous archaeology as about historic buildings, and he does a terrific job writing about both. Take for example, the following quote, from the above article, which speaks to many of the same issues currently plaguing the Glenrose Cannery site (it’s long, so you’ll have to click below):
Haida Gwaii microblade cores. Source: Fladmark 1970. BC Studies.
The journal BC Studies is a respected, peer-reviewed publication that focuses on, well, studies of BC, but particularly on historical topics it seems. It has long been an awkwardly circulated journal, in that it appears in few indexing databases and no PDFs were available, even via subscription or through paywalls such as university databases. These days, going to the library to photocopy is considered a hardship. It is therefore extremely welcome to see that BC Studies has put almost its entire series of back issues online, open access, free. Wow. You can download any article from inception in 1969 through the Summer of 2008. Interestingly, a number of the articles are also available as mp3 sound files, so you could listen to these on your daily commute. Naturally you can browse it yourself but you won’t, so let me point out some of the highlights, with an eye on archaeology, ethnohistory and historical geography.