A Lekwungen Herring Fishing site in Esquimalt Harbour: A Unique photograph in the Collection of the Royal B.C. Museum

By Grant Keddie. Nov 2016. 19th century photographic images in the Victoria region that show Lekwungen (Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations) undertaking traditional food gathering practices are rare. The only example of fishing is a photograph, taken in 1868, by Frederick Dally in Esquimalt harbour at the south entrance to Lang Cove (RBCM PN905). Lang Cove is located south of Skinner’s Cove, both of which are within the larger Constance Cove. This is the location of an ancient shellmidden as demonstrated by the scattered white clam shells seen in the image and later observed by the author at this location. This image (fig. 1 and close-up fig.2) of a man and woman at a herring fishing site is listed in … Continue reading “A Lekwungen Herring Fishing site in Esquimalt Harbour: A Unique photograph in the Collection of the Royal B.C. Museum”

Lekwungen Resources. Part 1. Fishing

Introduction Fishing was a major part of the traditional Lekwungen economy. The availability of some fish resources, however, changed on a decadal basis because of the changing water temperatures (Chevez et. al. 2003) and the intensity of important seasonal fish runs could vary over longer periods of time due to other climatic factors (Finney et. al. 2000 and 2002). There were times when the salmon runs did not arrive or drought conditions prevented them from running up local streams. People then had to refocus on other resources or starve. Although a few species of fish were often considered the most important, the old village sites reveal the remains of numerous species. Not enough analysis of fish remains from sites has … Continue reading “Lekwungen Resources. Part 1. Fishing”

Victoria’s Chinese Immigrant Fishermen

By Grant Keddie. August 2013. Introduction A little known history of 19th century British Columbia was the creation of an early commercial fishing industry by Chinese immigrant fishermen. In 1861, Chinese fishermen began using fine meshed nets to catch large quantities of herring, flounder, anchovy and trout in Victoria’s inner waterway. These fish were salted and dried for shipment to Barkerville and other mining areas of the Interior, where they retailed at 40 to 50 cents per pound. The salting and drying took place in Victoria’s upper harbour at the north end of Store Street on the banks of Rock Bay. On April 11, of 1861 the Colonist newspaper reports: “These fish are esteemed a great luxury by the Chinese … Continue reading “Victoria’s Chinese Immigrant Fishermen”

Wooden Self-Armed Fishhooks from the Salish Sea.

Chapter in Waterlogged: Examples and Procedures for Northwest Coast Archaeologists. Washington State University Press, Pullman, Washington, 2019. Edted by Kathryn N. Bernick. By Grant Keddie Wet sites contain many artifact types that link the archaeological and ethnographic records. Occasionally they also produce objects that do not match the known record. Here, I expand upon our knowledge of one unusual type, the self-armed wooden fishhook, and examine Croes’ (2003:52—55) hypothesis that the technology survived into postcontact times on the northern Northwest Coast but not in the south. This hypoth­esis assumes that self-armed wooden fishhooks were used for catching cod in both regions. However, ethnographic and ethnohistoric evidence for the northern coast indicates that self-armed wood hooks were used to catch sablefish rather than … Continue reading “Wooden Self-Armed Fishhooks from the Salish Sea.”