A Brief History of Broom and Gorse in British Columbia

The broom (Cytisus scoparius) and gorse (Ulex europaeus) are invasive shrub plants that have been the subject of studies and eradication campaigns (see Brandes et. al. 2019; Rodriguez et. al. 2011; Leblank 2001; Syrett et. al. 1999; Zielke et. al. 1992; Frisk 1964;). Some people like their beautiful blooms but more people are concerned with their overwhelming of native species and the pain caused by the sharp spines of the gorse. Both species originated in the Mediterranean region of western Europe and have been introduced to other parts of the world where they compete successfully with native plants. Broom is suited to the mild maritime climate found on the coast of British Columbia. These plants are a serious fire hazard. … Continue reading “A Brief History of Broom and Gorse in British Columbia”

Indigenous Bark Beaters in Coastal British Columbia

Were they Introduced from Polynesia? Preface Over the years from the 1970s to 2000, I had interesting discussions with Thor Heyerdahl during his research visits to the Royal B.C. Museum. I came to have a good understanding of his changing philosophy. Thor began his interests in British Columbia when he visited Bella Coola in 1939-1940 to compare petroglyphs at Thorsen Creek with Polynesian art forms. Unlike some of his critics, I read his scientific publications as well as his popular books. He was, on occasion, dismissed in the academic world, for some of his ideas that he had long given up. I assisted Thor in examining Museum artifacts he was interested in for possible Polynesian connections and suggested some myself … Continue reading “Indigenous Bark Beaters in Coastal British Columbia”

A Hat Makers Bone Tool

Introduction Many of the artifacts recovered by archaeologists have no ethnographic counterpart in museum collections. Most Indigenous ethnographic artifacts are made of wood. Rarer examples of bone or antler artifacts in ethnographic collections, with documentation, become important to help identify the use of some archaeological artifacts. The Bone Tool One unique artifact, in the Indigenous collections of the Royal B.C. Museum, is a bone tool described as a hat makers’ knife. The example was collected by Kwakwaka’wakw, George Hunt, in 1899, and sold to Charles Newcombe in 1901. Its ethnic origin is identified as Nahwitti, Kwakwaka’wakw. This artifact, number RBCM1252 (old #19074), was listed in the original catalogue by Charles Newcombe as: “Bone knife (Kwetani). Of the mountain goat. Used … Continue reading “A Hat Makers Bone Tool”

A Tsunami Spear Point

Polynesia to British Columbia By Grant Keddie. Introduction In 1972, I observed the pointed distal end of a broken wooded spear in the collection of the Royal B.C. Museum. Based on its general shape and design patterns, it appeared to be of Pacific Island origin. The wood was most like the Pacific hardwoods Calophyllum inophyllum or Acasia koa. At first, I assumed the artifact must have been buried with some more recent historic debris, but after observing the accession records and talking to the finder, a different picture began to emerge. It was found buried in Tsunami deposits in the Port Renfrew area on the west coast of Vancouver Island. This makes it the first known pre-contact Polynesian artifact found … Continue reading “A Tsunami Spear Point”

Mega Fauna Publication Abstracts with Grant Keddie as a co-author.

Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. 2 May 2024. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjes-2023-0102 Survival of mammoths (Mammuthus sp.) into the Late Pleistocene in Southwestern British Columbia (Vancouver Island), Canada. Laura Termes, Grant Keddie, Richard Hebda, Pat Trask, Victoria Arbour, Camilla Speller, L. Paskulin, Chris Ramsey and Michael Richards. Abstract As part of a larger project identifying and directly radiocarbon dating Late Pleistocene megafaunal remains in British Columbia (B.C.), Canada we have confirmed the identity of many newly identified mammoth (Mammuthus sp.) specimens (n=32) from Vancouver Island in Southwestern B.C. We undertook radiocarbon dating on all specimens and were able to obtain dates (due to preservation) on 16 of these remains, including re-dating a previously dated mammoth using newer radiocarbon extraction methods. The mammoth dates … Continue reading “Mega Fauna Publication Abstracts with Grant Keddie as a co-author.”

The Usdis Stone

The use of this very heavy stone is unknown. It was collected from the old village of Usdis on Rivers Inlet in 1910. It has not been weighed, but I could barely lift it, and estimate it weighs about 200 lbs. There is no Indigenous source information of the use of this stone, but it would likely have been used for a ceremonial purpose. One suggested speculation is that in may have been used in a test of strength performance. The grooves on its side suggest that it was tied down, possibly on a wooden platform inside a house. It has a face like a mountain sheep and raven-like bird head designs carved on its sides. Provenance Charles Newcomb recorded … Continue reading “The Usdis Stone”

Mystery of the Songhees Memorial Poles

Two older memorial poles, once on the New Songhees Reserve, have contradictory information about their provenience. Who carved them? One was originally owned by the Songhees Councilor William Roberts (1894-1938) and the other by the Chief Michael Cooper (1864-1936). The William Roberts Pole This pole is in the Royal B.C. Museum collection with two numbers. RBCM Ethnology # 5043 is the main pole, and RBCM #5051 is the eagle carving that was once on top of RBCM # 5043. It was purchased from Songhees Band member Alice James in 1940. The Report of the Provincial Museum of Natural History For the Year 1940 (1941:D14) refers to: ”By Purchase. Mrs. Alice James, Victoria. One totem-pole, 1 eagle figure”. Songhees Band member, … Continue reading “Mystery of the Songhees Memorial Poles”

Stone Masks and Stone Wearers

I have long thought that many of the seated human stone figures found in British Columbia are wearing masks. Some figures have faces that are a mixture of human and other animal features. Several of the stone figures are wearing what appear to be a mask separated from their facial area (Figures 5-9). I would also propose that there are small stone masks (Figures 1-3), with attachment holes on their sides, that were worn on some of the small stone figures. We need to consider that seated human stone and other stone ritual figures may be only one component of a ritual object, that included other components of perishable material such as wood, feathers or woven fibres, as well as … Continue reading “Stone Masks and Stone Wearers”

Stone Human Seated Figurine Bowls

Part 3. Cowichan to Courtney Part three includes 12 bowls from locations between Cowichan and Courtney on Vancouver Island, with a few close Gulf Islands included. This is not a complete listing, as there are a number of seated human stone bowls or fragments from private collections that are not included here. Some individuals with private collections, for various reasons, do not want their names made public. I have only included previous owner names here. Many of the images I have copied over the last 50 years from various sources for different purposes. The current location of some and the names of photographers is not known. Porlier Pass Bowl This bowl (Figure 1 & 2), is now in a private … Continue reading “Stone Human Seated Figurine Bowls”

Stone Human Seated Figure Bowls.  Part 2. North Saanich Peninsula

by Grant Keddie Preface for Part 2. Part 2, includes eight seated human figure bowls from the Saanich Peninsula north of Victoria on Vancouver Island. There are a few others from private collections believed to be from this general region that are not included here. The north Saanich Peninsula region, especially the area around Tsehum Harbour on the east side, was an important cultural centre in the past. There are several large archaeological shellmidden sites in Tsehum Harbour on the north side of the town of Sidney and a large shellmidden just to the south along Bazan Bay. Tsehum Harbour is an area protected from the weather as well as a location providing access to a diversity of local environments. … Continue reading “Stone Human Seated Figure Bowls.  Part 2. North Saanich Peninsula”