Exhibit, To The Totem Forests


'Yalis (Alert Bay)

Gwa'yasdams (Gilford Village)

Kalugwis (Turnour Island)

K'we (Mt. Stephens)

'Mi'mkwamlis (Village Island)

T'sadzis'nukwaame' (New Vancouver)

Ts'aa7ahl (Chaatl)

Q'una (Skedans)

Hlragilda (Skidegate)


Pebble Town

Gitwangak (Kitwanga)



Gitanyow (Kitwancool)

Ba'a's (Blunden Harbour)

Xwatis (Quatsino)

Q'una (Skedans)

Hlragilda (Skidegate)

Gitanyow (Kitwancool)

Caynaa (Haina)

Hiellen (Tow Hill)




'Old Indian House' / Emily Carr / Vancouver Art Gallery /  42.3.51a RBCM PN06065

"There is one other village I would like to mention before I close, that is Guyasdoms. Guyasdoms is about 18 miles from Alert Bay. I went there through the kindness of Mr. Halliday the Indian agent at Alert Bay."
Carr Lecture on Totems, 1913:47

"Among my pictures will be seen two specimens of the houses of Guyasdoms,
. . . and truly dignified dwellings they are.... [This] is one of the most dignified paganish mansions I have ever seen the door in the centre is formed through the totem pole, a large whale with a little man astride of his back and a flying thunder bird above. The entrance is through a heavy door in the whales mouth. A flight of steps formed of solid logs banked with clay descends to the beach." Carr Lecture on Totems, 1913:49-50

"According to my grandparents, a long time ago the Sea Monster Numkalagyu emerged from the bottom of the sea in Blackfish Sound. He came to shore and helped found a group of people called 'Namgis. In order to portray what he had seen in his travels and the supernatural powers he obtained, this ancestor used the Sea Monster design on his house. Ever since that time, only people of the 'Namgis tribe and certain in-laws have had the privilege of using this design."
Chief Bill Scow, son of the owner of the house, Chief John Scow, in Sea Monster House 1981.

"You see that totem pole standing beside old Johnny Scow's house at Gwa'yasdams? It was the second pole Mungo Martin ever carved. It shows a gwayim (whale) and the ancestor who harpooned it. Between the whale's tail is a raven."
Chief Tommy Hunt, Kwagu'l tribe, examining a photograph of the Scow House. Macnair, personal communication, Victoria 1970

A profile view of Mungo Martin's housefrontal pole, attached to the Scow house, is seen in a watercolour sketch signed "M.E. Carr Guisdoms", dated 1912.
Shadbolt 1979:47 plate 25

RBCM PN00235 RBCM PN00042

The Changing Villagescape

The social dynamics of a chiefly family are wonderfully summarized in the house of Chief John Scow. His first bride, a 'Namgis woman, brought as a dowry privilege the sea monster housefrontal painting shown in photograph RBCM PN00235. Later, a totem pole featuring Scow's principle crests, carved by Mungo Martin, was added (RBCM PN06065).

About 1915 Scow, by then a widower, married a noble Heiltsuk woman. The house was reconstructed and her dowry included the Raven image painted on the new structure (RBCM PN00042). At this time the frontal pole was retained but moved to the side of the house. Emily Carr visited Gwa'yasdams in 1912 and her painting reflects the version of the housefront seen in photograph RBCM PN06065.

Continue on with Gwa'yasdams section

See more paintings of Gwa'yasdams
See more photographs of Gwa'yasdams

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