2019 July Journey – Haida Gwaii section – Day 20

We headed out this morning to explore the communities of Skidegate, Tlell, and Port Clements.  The populations of each of these three towns is between 180-300. Skidegate is nearest to Queen Charlotte at just over 9 km up the road.

We stopped at the Hadaii Gwaii Museum only to find it was closed today with no explanation as to why.  We plan to go again tomorrow. At a park on the outskirts of Skidegate we stopped to take photos of the famous carver Bill Reid’s totem.

Balance Rock is on a beach on the other side of Skidegate.  It is a moraine deposit delicately set in place by a powerful glacier.  The village of Skidegate’s primary Haida name is “Place of Stone” and Balance Rock is considered a Supernatural Being. Nude Beach is a sand beach; by far the majority of Haida Gwaii beaches are rock.  The nude part is only for small children; not teens or adults. When we made our way back to the road via a different path than we entered the beach we found that someone had spread poppy seeds in the ditch on the other side of the road. An old legend says that if you drink from St. Mary’s Spring you will someday return to Haida Gwaii.  The little pool is pretty stagnant now so they do not encourage you to drink the water.  Many folks will sprinkle themselves with it though.  The chainsaw carving that was made many years ago was stolen 30 years ago.  The authorities searched every vehicle on the departing ferry and recovered it.  People never cease to amaze me with the greedy and senseless things they do.

We stopped to find a geocache at the Halibut Bight Rest Stop and decided to have lunch while we were there.  We could easily see the rain falling on the water at the horizon.  We did not have any rain all day.  On the outskirts of Tlell we took a side road and went up to Crystal Cabin.  There is a Stone Circle outside the gallery that is made up of different geological stones that a fellow found on Haida Gwaii.  The tourist brochure had a write-up about vortexes and energy lines, etc. but we just wanted to see the different stones.  Unfortunately the fellow did not identify each of then nor say where he found them. This  long  thin  rock  was  covered  with  fossil  lines.This is petrified wood.

The museum at Port Clements has a lot of logging memorabilia and machinery.  The huge Justkatla logging camp was close by and many artifacts and information relating to the days of the camp were on display. Look at the length of the blade on this chainsaw.  Then look at the photo below of two men using it. One thing I love about museums is that you so often find something you have never seen or heard of before.  Such is the case with the object below. On the grounds around the museum there were many pieces of logging equipment on display.  I have  seen  most  of  it  before  so I only  photographed  a few  items  and  included  even  less  here.M If there is an old fire truck on display I just feel I must take a picture of it.  Too many years of seeing John admire fire equipment, I guess.

From the museum we drove down to the wharf.  There was a geocache hidden at the pub next door, but there were too many people going in and out for us to find it.

The birdhouse tree is right at the end of the wharf and has lots of different birdhouses; from log cabins to an old guitar and many others in between.  Birds even nest in many of them.

On the way out of town to head back to Queen Charlotte we stopped at the Millenium Park beside the nicely restored St. Mary’s church (which is now a gift shop and gallery).  In the park there is a seedling from the famous Golden Spruce – protected by a very high fence all around.  I remember trekking into the bush to see the Golden Spruce when I was here 50 years ago.  It was genetically an ordinary Sitka spruce tree, but for some reason it’s needles were a deep luminous gold instead of green.  The tree was estimated to be about 300-years old and it was 50 meters (165′) tall and the trunk was as wide as a car is long.  On January 20, 1997 a disgruntled foresty worker (turned radical environmental activist) went out in the middle of the night and cut it down.  The tree was a very sacred symbol for the Haida nation (they saw it as a human being transformed) and the people in the town of Port Clements and it was a devastating loss to the area.  Some cuttings were taken and one was planted at the park.

Grant Hadwin, the man that did the deed, was charged with indictable criminal mischief, which is a felony, and ordered to appear in court in Prince Rupert.  He was afraid to take the ferry because people were threatening to lynch him so he decided to paddle across 50 miles of open water in the middle of winter during a storm. Four months later his kayak, life jacket and gear was found on an isolated uninhabitated island in Alaska.  He has never been heard from nor seen since.

The loss of the tree was so significant that they actually held a funeral for it with speeches and music and ceremonies.  Of all of the trees in the forests the Golden Spruce was the only one that the Haida Nation had given a name. On the way back to Queen Charlotte we had a good view of the long houses and six totems that were raised in six days at the Haida Museum that we were unable to visit.  Tomorrow we will stop in again as we are heading back up island to go to Masset and Old Masset and have to pass right by.

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