Replica House Frontal Pole (RBCM 20129)

Thunderbird Park
Gerry Marks
Richard Hunt
Tim Paul
Replica house frontal pole in Thunderbird Park

Replica House Frontal Pole

The pole standing in front of the wooden structure that is the Carving Studio.

The pole in front of the Carving Studio, 1984. I-04497.

Three houses in Cumshewa village with multiple poles standing in front of them.

One end of the village of Cumshewa (Hlḵinul Llnagaay) in 1878. C-09294.

Pole standing in front of house frame.

The original pole and frame of Rock Slide House at Hlḵinul Llnagaay in 1901. Charles F. Newcombe photograph, PN 60.

Crowd of people watching the pole being raised with beams and ropes.

Raising the Haida pole in Thunderbird Park, June 1984. Don Abbott photograph, ESN3013.

People watching pole raising in front of Carving Studio

The pole goes up in front of the Carving Studio, June 1984. Don Abbott photograph, ESN3003.

Dancers holding a blanket and dancing on stage.

Robert Davidson and the Rainbow Creek Dancers at the Haida pole raising, June 1984. Don Abbott photograph, ESN3046.

Beams of the Carving Studio being lifted up and onto a truck bed by a crane.

The Carving Studio was demolished in 2009 but the pole still stands in Thunderbird Park. Kim Martin photograph.

This pole is a version of one that stood in front of a house named Rock Slide House in Hlḵinul Llnagaay (Cumshewa village), Haida Gwaii. Rock Slide House, built after 1878, replaced an earlier house named House That Makes a Great Noise. The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago purchased the original pole in 1901, and then in the 1930s sold it to the Salvation Army, who erected it in a children’s camp in Illinois. A collector acquired it in the 1960s. The Canadian Museum of History purchased it in 1982. Since 1996 it has stood in the CMH’s Grand Hall in Gatineau, Quebec (VII-B-1796 a, d). 

This new version of the pole from Hlḵinul Llnagaay was carved by three exceptional Northwest Coast artists: Gerry Marks (Haida), Richard Hunt (Kwakwaka’wakw) and Tim Paul (Nuu-chah-nulth) and raised in the traditional manner in front of the new Carving Studio in Thunderbird Park on June 9, 1984, Charley Wesley, Chief of Cumshewa, in attendance. The Carving Studio was structured like a six-beam Haida house. It replaced a previous studio that was destroyed by fire and was itself taken down in 2009 when it became structurally unsound. With the permission of the Cumshewa chief, the pole remains standing, now with no house behind it, in Thunderbird Park.

The crests of the owner of Rock Slide House are shown on the pole. The three Watchmen at the top look out to sea and call out warnings at the approach of enemy canoes. Next is Cormorant, with human arms with feathered elbows. The Killer Whale below has a woman clinging to its tail and a small upside-down human figure, whose face forms the whale’s blowhole, riding on its back. They illustrate the story of Nanasimgit, whose wife was abducted by a whale. At the bottom, Grizzly Bear is shown with two human-like cubs, referring to a story about a woman who married a bear and gave birth to half-human, half-bear children.

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