One of my favorite walks in Sitka is through Sitka National Historical Park, we call it “Totem Park.” I have been friends with many of the poles in the park since my first walk through in 1973. In the 44 years since then I have made the acquaintance of several new poles, carved for different occasions, commemorating the Park Service, or the Battle of Sitka. The poles are Tlingit an Haida, the older ones carved by Tsimshian Carvers.
But before I first walked in Totem Park I had visited Victoria, B.C. and looked at the poles in Thunderbird Park and on the grounds of the British Columbia legislature. At the BC Museum
Store, adjacent to the poles, I bought “Northwest Coast Indian Art” by Bill Holm, first published by the University of Washington in 1964. The book, and the poles in Victoria, sparked an interest in Northwest Coast Native art that still enriches me.
So at the beginning of April, when I was “stranded” in Seattle, unable to get a seat on a flight to Sitka for a couple of days, I decided to reacquaint myself with the totem poles in Victoria, that first got me interested in the form. Looking at poles from the whole BC Coast, and not just from Southeast Alaska reminded me of the rich variety of culture and art that was here long before Europeans first sailed these waters. Here are 20 pictures of Victoria’s totem poles.