Haida Argillite Carvers in Victoria

July 22, 2019. By Grant Keddie. Introduction The Haida were among the many Indigenous northern visitors to Victoria after 1853. Many came to work to get trade goods or wages to purchase European commodities. The Haida visitors brought carvings they made on Haida Gwaii. Many of these were made of argillite, a stone unique to Haida Gwaii (see appendix 1, What is Argillite). Argillite was used primarily after 1810, there are only a few examples of argillite being used for labrets in ancient times (Keddie 1981). Argillite plates, platters, mugs, goblets, knives and forks became popular as the Haida copied the European-style tableware used by the settlers. The citizens of Fort Victoria enthusiastically purchased these. On July 21, 1859 the … Continue reading “Haida Argillite Carvers in Victoria”

The Bison of Beacon Hill Park

June 20, 2017 By Grant Keddie Introduction A very interesting specimen is recorded in the catalogue of the Vertebrate Zoology Collection of the Royal B.C. Museum for April 19th, 1932. It was the body of a three-day old bison donated by the Victoria Parks Department. It was the baby born in Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park to its bison parents Victoria and Albert. Where did the Bison Come From? On November 9, 1928, William Straith, President of the Victoria Junior Chamber of Commerce, had advised the Victoria Park Committee that he had been trying to obtain two bison (buffalo) for the Beacon Hill Park Zoo. The Dominion (Federal) government allotted two from Alberta’s Buffalo National Park near Wainright where they had … Continue reading “The Bison of Beacon Hill Park”

Victoria Underwater

January 15, 2019 By Grant Keddie The Haultain Valley 14 meter Ocean Standstill. At the end of the ice age the land, in relation to the sea level, was undergoing enormous changes around Greater Victoria. Where the land surface was covered by ice or had ice sheets nearby, it was pushed down making local sea level high in relation to the land. This was occurring even when world-wide sea levels were much lower. As ice melted the local earth’s crust quickly rebounded and relative sea level fell at least 45 meters below where it is today. The sea then slowly came back up to near its present level around 4500 years ago – creating Victoria harbour, Esquimalt harbour and the … Continue reading “Victoria Underwater”

Fish Hook Shanks

2013? By Grant Keddie Fish Hook shanks made of stone, bone, antler and shell are parts of composite fish hooks that are armed with a sharp bone point. These artifacts are often seen as typical “West Coast” of Vancouver Island artifacts. In fact, their distribution extends around the southern end of Vancouver Island, and to a lesser extent, north up the east coast of the Island. The RBCM ethnology collection has only one example of a trolling hook from the Victoria area. This specimen (number 728), however, was not one actually used. It was a model made in 1898, and purchased by Charles Newcombe. The hook was said to represent the kind of trolling hooks that local First Nation used … Continue reading “Fish Hook Shanks”

Labrets in the Collection of the Royal B.C. Museum

2007. By Grant Keddie Introduction In my publication: “The Use and Distribution of Labrets on the North Pacific Rim” (Syesis 14:59-80, 1981), and paper: “Symbolism and Context: The World History of the Labret and Cultural Diffusion on the Pacific Rim” (Keddie 1989 – this web site), I presented an overview of the geography, timing, gender relations and symbolism pertaining to labrets or lip plugs. I have argued that Labrets are artifacts of significant importance in the interpretation of past human behaviour. As highly visual body adornment, labrets provide evidence of relationships between and among people. Labrets have taken on complex symbolic meanings beyond the obvious indicators of group membership, age, gender and class identity. Once they become established in a … Continue reading “Labrets in the Collection of the Royal B.C. Museum”

The Victoria Smallpox Epidemic of 1862

By Grant Keddie Preface One of the great tragedies in the History of British Columbia was the smallpox epidemic of 1862-63, which killed thousands of Indigenous peoples. A previous pandemic spreading across northern North America from the western Atlantic coast hit British Columbia around 1780, before non-Indigenous settlement in the region. Estimates from other documented areas would suggest that at least 80% of the population may have died from this first introduction of smallpox into the region. This massive interruption would have resulted in the re-alignment of Indigenous societies. In early 1853, a smallpox epidemic spread from the Columbia River to Neah Bay on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, causing a heavy death toll in that area. George Gibbs … Continue reading “The Victoria Smallpox Epidemic of 1862”