Desolation Sound Salmon Enhancement Society Report, Nov/Dec 2016



Chum salmon at natural salmon ladder in the outflow of Refuge Lagoon
(remains of the replaced old steel dam top right)

The Desolation Sound Salmon Enhancement Society (DSSES) enhanced creeks in Refuge Lagoon for 12 years. With As the help and instruction of our DFO Advisor Grant McBain we raised late run Coho at Rob Smail’s salmon system in Doctor Bay on the east side of the island and transferred smolts to Refuge Lagoon. Our first Coho return was accompanied by a run of Chum that has returned in small numbers since then.

Due to the huge 2016 Chum run on the B.C. Coast; a large number of Chum ran into Refuge Lagoon and far up into all the creeks so laboriously rehabilitated by the very dedicated crew assembled over those years. I am sending out data collected on November 11 and 12, 2016, by Jan Hansen and Reinhold Hoge to thank all those who worked on and supported our project.

My upcoast mentor Billy Proctor says “Chums and Sockeye have 3, 4 and 5 year olds some years. 3 and 4 year olds came back some years, 3- 4 years back, but it is only once in 60 years that all three ages come back at the same time.”


On Nov. 11 and 12/16 a survey was made by Jan Hansen and Reinhold Hoge to count Chum in easy essay help using lasix for weight loss buy proscar online uk see url enhancing viagras effects online pharmacy without prescription easy steps to writing an essay follow site go to link enter viagra 25 mg wirkungsdauer source site buy topiramate no prescription enter review essay example source site rainbow writing paper essay about american writers here here see url enter go site source link cheaper viagra levitra cialis application essay template can i buy cialis in dubai 150mg viagra follow site 6 in Refuge Lagoon streams.



Coho Creek, 199 morts, 39 live. Total-238

Fish were observed 150m upstream from lake, at that point the creek had narrowed thus the water velocity had increased and the debris from the forest is also becoming an issue further up. 100 meters further on it was becoming difficult to travel through for both fish and humans.

Dave’s Creek, 59 morts, 10 live Total-69

Fish were observed 130m upstream from lake; there is an impassable waterfall 20m further on. The beaver dam at approximately 200m further on let go 2 years ago and 1/2 km of water was suddenly released and removed a large amount of forest below the waterfall and also created a rocky debris field, so it was quite a surprise to see the salmon spawning out in the open, with no tree cover.

Beaver Dam Creek, 25 morts, 5 live Total-30

Fish observed 50m upstream from lake, at that point the series of rapids start. Maybe at some point the rapids could be made into pools for there are about 150m of ideal salmon spawning gravel past that bottleneck. There has also been trout fry spotted about 300m further on in the past.

Thompson Lake Creek, 16 morts, 12 live Total-28

The creek here is only 30 meters from the lagoon to the waterfall, a couple of salmon were observed trying to scale it. No salmon will be making it past this point but there are trout up in Thompson Lake.

Kuyt Creek, 15 morts, 15 live, Total-30

Fish observed till about 100 meters upstream from lagoon, further on it becomes a series of waterfalls and narrow fast moving rapids making it impassable for fish. This creek drains out of a small lake about 1/2 a kilometre further up the hill, known to some of us as Goose lake. There is no fish in this lake due to the major waterfalls all way up there. But there is beaver activity in an around this body of water.

Refuge Lagoon Creek, 145 morts, 95 live, Total-240

There is easily observed fish activity at this spot; the salmon are using the spawning ravel that was transported here by DSSES. And the logging debris from the lake is providing excellent cover from the predators. There is still salmon coming in from the ocean and we will be keeping an eye on this for the next couple of months.


Chum Salmon, Thompson Lake Creek

By December 2016, the Chum were finished and Coho were counted in three streams with 18 Coho at dam waiting to come in. These are direct descendants of salmon we introduced.




An industrial threat to Desolation Sound on B.C.’s mid-coast?


Lloyd Creek area on mainland from pictograph gallery on East Redonda Island, photo: Aurora Scala, 2015.

Lloyd Creek area on mainland from pictograph gallery on East Redonda Island, photo: Aurora Scala, 2015.



In response to the B.C. Government’s approval of an application by Lehigh Materials Co., Ltd., to test drill for a gravel quarry at Lloyd Creek in Desolation Sound, I visited the site and its surrounding territory. Although I know Desolation Sound, Homfray Channel and the Prideaux Haven Marine Park well as I have lived and worked in this territory for 44 years, I decided to tabulate what specific landscape and First Nations historical elements might be impacted by the Lloyd Creek testing and by the possible opening of a quarry around its watershed.


After a bumpy crossing from Cortes Bay on Cortes Island to Desolation Sound on a windy July 4th, 2016 I met Bill Sinclair and Save Desolation Sound Society members at Lloyd Creek Bay. Our first task was to take advantage of 0.6 meter tide at 11:30, a.m., to examine clam beds within rock outcrops on the outer west side of Lloyd Creek Bay opposite Lloyd Creek. The intention was to look for any degree of beach modification by indigenous people of this area to create cultivated clam stations or clam gardens. The bay has three distinct clam-bearing pockets that might be useful in this otherwise very deep channel. It is important to note that Snout Point is only clam garden in Toba Inlet so this bay is the kind of place Klahoose people would stop for clams enroute seasonal village sites in their southern and western territory. What I proposed in Clam Gardens: Aboriginal Mariculture On Canada’s West Coast[i] as a food complex, running from Forbes Bay north through Prideaux Haven, to Tenedos Bay and across Portage Cove to Theodosia Inlet, seems to be an interface area used by the Klahoose and Sliammon peoples. The following Lloyd Creek Bay clam sites are fairly well protected by natural rock arms not exposed at this day’s tide.

Clam Garden area from mainland Lloyd Creek Bay looking south across Desolation Sound

Clam Garden area from mainland Lloyd Creek Bay looking south across Desolation Sound

  1. a) In an inner horseshoe-shaped bay, rocks have been moved to the side and up beach to expose a cleared area in behind two tidal islets in a way common here. Rocks and boulders create currents that increase nutrients for filter feeders. An incomplete pier of blasted rock was begun here by a previous property owner but was halted by some government authority.
  2. b) A natural rock barrier further south encloses another beach. Red-billed Oyster Catchers nest there.
  3. c) South is a small, more exposed beach. It is berm-ed up seaward to prevent erosion and has a flat clam bed. There were signs of a recent, un-backfilled, clam dig and a rock fire-pit.
Shellfish varieties, Lloyd Creek Bay

Shellfish varieties, Lloyd Creek Bay

The following clams were collected, identified and photographed: Native Little necks, Bent nose, Manila, and Mahogany. Normal sized, empty Butter clam shells were found although our dig was not deep. A zero or minus tide might produce more Butters. There are Cockles. The shellfish were well plumped out but not abundant. Pacific oysters have colonized the clam beds. The area is well defended by natural offshore rocks and looks groomed. If cultivated, it might be more productive as clam gardens go fallow when not used. This bay is a natural kayak stop with easy access, gravel-filtered fresh water

Pictograph gallery, East Redonda Island, Homfray Channnel across from Lloyd Creek. Sliammon Chief Roy Francis center, Klahoose Chief Danny Louie right. 1988.

Pictograph gallery, East Redonda Island, Homfray Channnel across from Lloyd Creek. Sliammon Chief Roy Francis center, Klahoose Chief Danny Louie right. 1988.

The SDS group then went directly across Homfray Channel to the Rock Art gallery on East Redonda Island. (Bordon # Eb-Sd-3, lat. SO degrees 11.652N, Long 123 degrees 39.585 W) This is one of two extensive pictograph sites in Homfray Channel and the best protected by a grand, stable overhang. The paint is well fixed by mineral runoff and a fragment was examined at my request by Conservation Canada in the late 1990s.[ii] There is no discernable paint binder and the age of the paintings is undetermined. The most notable figure is an exuberant man with outstretched arms riding what Klahoose Chief Danny Louie described to me in 1988 as “the Sea serpent of Homfray Channel.” There is also a vivid, red ocher, life-sized figure of a shaman; men spear-fishing from a canoe, seals and possibly an abstracted hemlock branch, a symbol of those used in spirit quests. A unique palette area was likely used mixing the ocher to create the figures. A “ghost” Agarikon fungus has always perched high in a Fir tree south of the gallery and a buoyant image of a whale is painted just south of it on that shore, a quartered of a mile above a rare piece of private property. A large portion of East Redonda facing Homfray Channel is an ecological preserve.

Lloyd Creek

Lloyd Creek

We re-crossed the channel to walk up Lloyd Creek. The creek mouth was rich with plants, wildflowers and trees. Specimens of native Silverweed, Huckleberry, Salmonberry, Salal and Thimbleberry were gathered. Huckleberries were dropped in the creek and a small trout rose to the bait. (Cutthroat?) The gravel boulders were an ankle-breaking, multi-sized assortment of pale rock interspersed in places with silvery-grey sand. A family of Mergansers splashed around where a family of Lesser Canada Geese had paddled to from the creek mouth on a June 19 visit. A creek water sample was taken. The vast alluvial fan of gravel through which the creek runs, and that forms Lloyd Point, would seem to be the tip of the iceberg of gravel that interests Lehigh Material Co. Ltd for a quarry. Since the glacier deposited the gravel, it has been doing an excellent job of filtering water and supporting plant and animal life. Lehigh is owned by Heidelberg Cement Co. of Germany that owns the Sechelt Quarry in partnership with the Sechelt Band.

Lloyd Creek

Lloyd Creek


The party then boated south to the site Archibald Menzies called “Flea Village” in his journal. He was aboard a cutter with a crew mapping the area for Captain George Vancouver in the summer of 1792. [iii]A preemption was held here by Mr. Saulter and Mr. Frank in the 30s. When rock art expert Francis Barrow visited in 1934, their house sat atop what the B.C. Archeology Dept. determines a “First Nations defensive site.” Our troupe climbed the mound and found the graceful Vanilla Plant, used by First Nations to discourage pests, still grew on the flat top. A clam garden fronts the mound and there are recorded canoe slides. Lunch was eaten floating in the bay. The crew then headed further into Prideaux Haven to a southern berm that closes the area and retains an indigenous canoe slide. A blurry pictograph was noted on the east side of Scobell Island. Save Desolation Sound hats and tee shirts were then boated to the Refuge Cove Store, which has offered to sell them to raise money for the Society.

Recent information from the DIEM mapping project states that the timber in the Lloyd Creek drainage consist of at least 50% old growth and mature trees, a unique pocket within a heavily logged-out coast. See attached report and maps below.

Flea Village

Flea Village

Conclusions. 1) Lloyd Creek is part of the upper end of a food complex that ranges from Theodosia Inlet, across Portage Cove (with its own rock art complex), to Tenedos Bay, Prideaux Haven, and up to the Forbes Bay Salmon Run and Homfray Creek near another rock art gallery on the mainland shore. 2) This is an important kayak and boating area that brings a substantial amount of the yearly income flow to the businesses at Lund, Refuge Cove, Squirrel Cove and the Gorge Marina on Cortes Island. 3) Lloyd Creek is said to be a Chum salmon run. Cutthroat as well as Chum run in Unwin lakes above Tenedos Bay and trout would seem to inhabit Lloyd. 4) Counting the pictograph at the entrance to the Theodosia River, there are a total of six rock art sites within this area. The gallery on East Redonda could be damaged by vibration and dust from an industrial site. 4) The presence of a rare old growth or mature tree stand that might be cleared to open a quarry is a travesty.


  • An independent, qualified ecologist be hired to access the forest extent, quality and age, shellfish numbers, fish in creek, shellfish growth data (see scallop operation), bear, bird, newt, fish population and water quality. If the forest is as valuable as indicated, a serious effort should be made to make that information public and the stand protected.
  • The local fish data is 25 years old. A qualified person should walk Lloyd Creek now and in the fall. Efforts should be made to protest any fall drilling as Chum tend to run in October. The Desolation Sound Salmon Enhancement Society in conjunction with the Save Desolation Sound Society and a project begun with the Pacific Salmon Society on Lloyd Creek to enhance the stocks.
  • Archeologists and/or anthropologists, with the cooperation and advice of the Klahoose and Sliammon bands, should undertake a rock art survey. Archeology records are sparse.


Present: Bill Sinclair, Director, Save Desolation Sound

Judith M. Williams, author and artist

Corinne Impey, Director, Six Words Communication

Kevin Fairley, pilot and Member of Save Desolation Sound

Arabella Campbell, artist

Absent: Russell Hollingsworth, Director, Save Desolation Sound

Additional DIEM Data –


DIEM initially created maps that showed a higher % of old forest, but then discovered that provincial database for the Lloyd Creek watershed is missing some forest age class data. This deficiency in the provincial database led to an initial skewed outcome. We have since acquired the missing data and this is the new map. You can see that the Lloyd Creek watershed is mostly intact (very few roads, including logging roads) and it is over 50% Old Forest. There is no Sensitive Ecosystem Inventory (SEI) mapping for Lloyd Creek; however, Old Forest is an SEI “sensitive ecosystem” and the Lloyd Creek watershed has a relatively high proportion of it.  Much of the Old Forest that is accessible in our area is old because it exists on steep, rocky land, and although it is old, it may not have the forest characteristics that we think of as old growth. It would be good to walk the area! The mapping can only be approximately accurate, but it seems certain that the Lloyd Creek watershed is relatively accessible, still mostly intact and contains a high proportion of Old Forest ecosystem. This is valuable and something to take care of.


Discovery Islands Ecosystems Mapping (DIEM) Project is here to help supply info for a fully informed assessment – and we share concerns about industrial development in this area. Over the past 4 years, DIEM Project has created baseline maps for watersheds in the greater area we call home. DIEM Project’s subsequent (almost) finished Watershed Analysis Project includes watersheds within the Discovery Islands, the Homathko River, and Toba Inlet Watershed Groups – which have now been analyzed for some specific qualities, including how intact they still are; conversely, how fragmented they are, and also how much old forest still exists within them. The Lloyd Creek maps just produced by our GIS specialist, Eve Flager, are the result of DIEM’s data analysis. This is a unique (and appropriate) view because watersheds are natural boundaries. We believe this is how natural areas should be considered when impacts are proposed.


Eve also produced a map of the bigger landscape that illustrates how few mostly-intact watersheds there are in the wider area. (It could be argued that Lloyd Creek’s relatively small size and high degree of intactness should make it a good candidate for protection.) Also a Google Earth map, and although it is difficult to know what’s what, Lloyd Creek looks like a beautifully forested valley.


Lannie Keller (and Eve Flager)

LloydCreek Google Earth view

LloydCreek Google Earth view

Lloyd Creek Percent OldForest

Lloyd Creek Percent OldForest

Greater than 50% GT50 Percent Watersheds

Greater than 50% GT50 Percent Watersheds



[i] Clam Gardens, Aboriginal Mariculture On Canada’s West Coast, New Star Books, 2006.

[ii] See Two Wolves At The Dawn of Time: Kingcome Inlet Pictographs 1893 to 1993, New Star Books, 1996, reprint 2010.

[iii] See previous blog “Flea Village?”

Flea Village or . . .?  

Fall, 2015

Flea Village, Wm Alexander copy of John Sykes drawing, jn 1792

Watercolour by William Alexander


The curious name of this Sliammon /Klahoose territory village site comes from a story in “The Journals of Archibald Menzies,” surgeon/botanist aboard Capt. Geo Vancouver’s Discovery during its exploration of the West Coast of British Columbia. In June 1792, the Discovery and its companion ship the Chatham entered the area Vancouver was to call Desolation Sound in company with the Spanish ships Sutil and Mexicana commanded by captains Dionisio Galiano and Cayetano Valdes. The four ships anchored off Kinghorn Island in the Sound, but wind forced them to move to Teakerne Arm on West Redonda Island. During the period from June 26th to July 13th, Menzies and a small crew rowed, sailed and surveyed through the area in small boats. On June 30, after breakfasting on a small island covered with pines, they headed out of Theodosia Inlet where they’d spent the night and headed north:

[T]o the great arm [Desolation Sound] and proceeded along shore to the North Eastward passing a large island [Mink Island] in mid-channel, where the Arm is at least a league wide. We soon rounded out a deep Bay, [Tenedos Bay] on the West side of which we saw a great number of fish stages erected from the ground in a slanting manner for the purpose of exposing the fish fastened to them to the most advantageous aspect for drying. These stages occupied a considerable space along shore and at a little distance appeared like the skeleton of a considerable Village; they were made of thin Lathes ingeniously fastened together with Withes of the roots of pine trees and from the pains and labour bestowed on them it was natural to infer that Fish must be plenty here at some time of the year, and that a considerable number of Natives rendezvous for the purpose of catching and drying them for winter sustenance, but, as we observed no huts or places of shelter for their convenience, it is probable they make but a short stay.

Fish and fish drying racks in Klahoose territory at Walsh Cove.

Fish and fish drying racks in Klahoose territory at Walsh Cove.










                                                After quitting this Bay we followed the same shore which trended North Eastward and soon after passed by a narrow Channel on the inside of a cluster of steep rocky islands wooded with pines, but did not proceed above a league when at the farther end of these islands we came to a small Cove in the bottom of which the picturesque ruins of a deserted village placed on the summit of an elevated projecting rock excited our curiosity and induced us to land close to it to view its structure.

This rock was inaccessible on every side except a narrow pass from the land by means of steps which admitted only one person to ascend at a time and which seemed to be well guarded in case of attack for right over it a large maple tree diffused its spreading branches in such an advantageous manner as to afford an easy and ready access from the summit of the rock to a concealed place amongst its branches, where a small party could watch unobserved and defend the pass with ease. We found the top of the rock nearly level and wholly occupied with the skeletons of houses – irregularly arranged and very crowded; in some places the space was enlarged by strong scaffolds projecting over the rock and supporting houses apparently well secured. These also acted as a defense by increasing the natural strength of the place and rendering it still more secure and inaccessible.” [i]

After rudely riffling through the effects of what they estimated might be as many as 300 inhabitants, Menzies and the sailors were routed from the mound by attacking fleas. They ran downhill to stand up to their necks in water, then stripped to the buff and headed back to Teakerne dragging their clothes behind the boat. At the ships they stood naked in a line while their clothing was boiled free of fleas lest these saucy vermin become established onboard. This seriocomic event led to the designation of the site as Flea Village. It is now listed as a defensive site in the archeological records. Sliammon elder, Norm Gallagher, who surveyed this area with provincial Parks officials in the summer of 2005, stated it was more of a settled village than just a seasonal encampment. The explorers felt the buildings were stripped of their outer cladding and the place deserted due to the fleas, but they had no sense the local First Nations moved from winter village to seasonal camp to procure and process food and would return when appropriate. Royal Engineer Robert Homfray reported seeing Native people, in the fall of 1861, using boards bridging canoes to ferry fish down what is now called Homfray Channel. House planks could be stripped off to move goods and then side another seasonal dwelling.

The exact location of this village became obscured over time despite Menzies noting John Sykes had made a drawing on the spot. The British Admiralty required all logs and drawings to be turned over when the voyagers arrived home. A few images were worked up in watercolour by William Alexander and some engraved for the publication of Vancouver’s journals.

Beth Hill was a most energetic upcoast sleuth, ferreting out rock art locations and long time coastal residents and their stories. She and her husband Ray Hill accomplished the first organized recording of upcoast petroglyphs and their Indian Petroglyphs of the Pacific Northwest, published in 1974, is still the only extensive text on the subject. If Beth thought she knew where Flea village was, I was onboard and I boated us out of Refuge Cove across Desolation Sd., to Prideaux Haven and into the rocky bay behind Roffey Island as instructed. I slid the boat into a beach to the left of a high rock mound, let Beth off and she disappeared into the bush. I waited. Suddenly there was a scream from above: “I found it, I found it! This is it! You have to come up!” Beth materialized on the beach full of instructions how I should scramble up the backside of the rock via a maple tree. She held the boat while I pulled myself up a narrow passage at the east side of the mound. The handsome flat top was crowded with trees under-laid by the exquisite Vanilla Leaf, used by First Nations as an insect repellent, now in spiky bloom. I found a few rusted stove remnants and felt the odd moss-cloaked, rotting board underfoot, but there was no obvious sign of buildings or the bridgework Menzies described. From the front of the mound there was a clear view out into the entrance to Homfray Channel and across to the abrupt rise of East Redonda. Large Maples still grew at the back of the mound and a stream flowed down the south side. Everything announced a secure site.

Although the area is now Prideaux Haven Marine Park and crowded with boats in the summer, some years after Beth and I explored, Walter Franke went to dig clams just below Flea Village in the dead of winter. Somehow his boat floated away. Walter was stranded for several days very alone with an abundance of clams to eat and a growing concern about how to survive long term. It was only a chance sighting of smoke by Rob Smail, the only other local inhabitant, as he was running south from Doctor Bay, which led to Walter’s rescue.

The history of the disappearance of this site to general knowledge is connected to William Alexander watercolour copy of Sykes drawing being titled “First Nations village, Homfray Channel, June 1792,” with the implication it is in Forbes Bay. Another title: “Deserted Village, Gulf of Georgia” is more misleading. The situation shown in Alexander’s painting is quite clear once you enter the bay. He shows the mound and its defensive bridgework and the low flat above the beach where I first landed Beth where the house framework was. The stream is not visible but it does run very flat into the sea. Perhaps midshipman Sykes original sketch might clarify things.

The pre-photographic process of representing the coast of North America presents some interesting problems that result from the training of those who made the representations. Examples taken from the Spanish and British logs and published journals, although often accurate as to geographical placement do represent people, foliage and objects seen through eyes trained to image from within their societal norms of representation. Drawings done on the spot often went thru the hands of those not present before being engraved and published. What was published was as mediated by the techniques of their time as our visuals now are.

British Navel officers were trained to “take views” in pencil and watercolour and with Sykes, and midshipmen Thomas Heddington, and Henry Humphries making sketches of many areas during Vancouver’s voyage. The engraving of the Discovery, embarrassingly on the rocks in Queen Charlotte Sound, was based on a sketch by the ship’s First lieutenant Zachary Mudge. We are fortunate to have several layers of data with regard to the appearance of Flea Village: Menzies notes and published journals, Vancouver’s journal report, Sykes original sketch and a watercolour translation by Alexander. Slight discrepancies of image or observation resulting from the British/European conventions of narrative and representation are instructive and cautionary.

It is informative to compare the well-known engraving of “The Village of the Friendly Indians” explored later in July at the mouth of the nearby Bute Inlet with “Flea Village.” Only recently has Thomas Heddington tiny sketch emerged. It was sold in 2012 and is now in B.C.


William Alexander was hired to work up Heddington’s drawing (above) in watercolour as he’d done Sykes’ and it was then engraved for Vancouver’s A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean and Round the World 1791-1795. (below)


The process points out the techniques used to represent the wilderness prior to photography. The teaching of these skills was codified according to the visual canon of the time and an open-minded perusal of the original sketch is essential to get closer to what was seen. Alexander was known for his exactitude and the engraver as faithful as his medium would allow, but the hill and paths have been straightened for conventional visual dynamics and balance. Hills in the background on Sonora Island are raised. The positioning of what might be a fortified, longhouse, lookout area on the hilltop is made more dramatic, the building roofs Europeanized and 3 (?) inhabitants emphasized for “colour.” The widening of the canoe area and extension of the tidal island for balance make present site identification difficult. If, like Proust’s Grandmother, you like your images even further mediated, you can order a “handmade oil painting” based on Alexander’s watercolour on the Internet! In the case of the Spanish travelling through Desolation Sound with Vancouver, the engraving of the “Tabla” they found in Toba Inlet, published in Viage de las goletas Sutil y Mexicana, Madrid 1802, is very close in detail to a Xerox I once saw of the original sketch made of this carved panel by sailor Jose Cardero on the spot.

However, Beth was able to figure out the location of Flea Village through photographs and notes by Francis Barrow of Bertram Saulter and his friend Frank who lived atop the mound in the 30s. They hand logged, were building a boat and had a garden on the lower Native house site from which they brought the anchored Barrows a “pan of peas.” Saulter had likely been given a preemption there. Barrow was the first upcoast boater to spend his summers photographing and drawings pictographs, petroglyphs, village sites and artifacts during this period for the Royal B.C. Museum and the National Museum in Ottawa. He photographed many of the people living in the areas thru which he and his wife Amy travelled in their small, wooden cruiser Toketie from Sidney as far north as the Broughton Archipelago. Beth compiled his notes and Ray Hill restored his photos for Upcoast Summers. [ii]

There is always more to discover. If this was a long-term village site as well as a defensive one, there is likely a Coast Salish name. The Klahoose name for Forbes Bay just north is Aap’ukw’m, meaning “having maggots.” It’s said the cliff at the north entrance to the bay turns white to represent maggot eggs when the salmon are about to run up river. The Klahoose camped on the wide flat north of the river where they still have an adventure camp and they made use of the rock tidal weir to harvest the fish. The Roffey Island mound sits in the middle of a food complex from there south through Prideaux Haven and Tenedos Bay and over Portage Cove to the abundant salmon run in the Theodosia River at the village site of Tuukwanen, Sliammon ID Reserve #4. While researching Clam Gardens: Aboriginal Mariculture on Canada’s West Coast, I found a semicircular clam garden below the mound, two canoe slides and a heart-shaped, rock base of a fish weir behind Coppelstone Island south. [iii] Sliammon Elder Elsie Paul’s recent memoir[iv] tells how she moved with her grandparents right thru this territory in the 20s and 30s as food and work was seasonally available. It would be polite to at least augment the derogatory name “Flea Village” with a First Nations name.

A look at the original Sykes drawing said to be in the Hydrographic Office in Tauton, England, would help figure out the actual deployment of the boards extending and defending the mound. It was so successfully accomplished the explorers thought the local people could not have engineered such a structure.

[i] “The Journal of Archibald Menzies, Journal of Vancouver’s Voyage, April to October 1792.” Ed C.F. Newcombe, Victoria, BC, 1923 (Archives of BC, Memoir v)

[ii] Upcoast Summers, Beth Hill, Touchwood Editions,1985.

[iii] Clam Gardens: Aboriginal Mariculture On Canada’s West Coast, New Star Books, Vancouver, 2006.

[iv] Elsie Paul, Written As I Remember It.

NAMU: A Modest Proposal – part 1


A childhood spent on Texada Island at the brim of the Pacific Lime quarry gave me a soft spot for the footprint and atmosphere of coastal industrial infrastructure. I was the wandering girl flicking a magic cast of solidified lime dust off a Salal leaf unaware of its dangerous message or that a whalebone found on a Blubber Bay beach marked the locus of an industry that decimated the Gulf of Georgia whales. My much-adored “Gramp” built kilns that burnt the limestone to make the lime that made the cement that re-built B.C. Packers’ Namu cannery after a 1961 fire. He died of lung cancer.

In the summer of 1989 Don, Liz, Wendy, Bobo and I ventured upcoast from Desolation Sound in two small boats. I’d named our twenty-foot, aluminum speed boat Tetacus after the Salish Chief who guided Spanish Captains Galiano and Valdez north in 1792. Fascinated by the magic of sails, Tetacus also learned to annotate charts for the explorers. I thought our new boat should be named for a man as curious about new technology as I was about the old.

Loosely following early explorers’ routes, we trolled up channels and crossed sounds north from Desolation and anchored at night to sleep in our boats as if they were tents. We had charts, but no phone, depth sounder, GPS or radar. At Village Island fallen wolf posts, and the fluted house uprights that rose from a haze of Fireweed, made our Northwest journey seem the cultural equivalent of going to Greece. For eleven days we avoided modern settlements.

On July 28th we edged out of Blunden Harbour to check the weather for our trip north around Cape Caution and offshore toward Spider Island. To stretch our legs, we went thru Kwakshua Channel and anchored at Pruth Bay on Calvert Island. Liz and Wendy picked berries as we walked back from the grand arc of beach we’d discovered facing the open ocean. That night we cooked a salmon caught in Hakai Pass on a Spider Anchorage beach and followed it with berry-laced bannock. A huge Northern Raven landed low on a branch to talk. After we anchored out, Bobo became violently ill and I spent the night wondering if I should start up the boat and have Don, who had navigation skills, guide me in the dark to the Namu Cannery we’d heard of. I was afraid Bobo would have to fly out but, in the morning, as Don led us east, our patient recovered. The source of his illness remained a mystery since we’d all eaten the same thing.


Once the boat was tied up at B.C. Packers Namu docks, Bobo availed himself of the free shower and I wandered through the sprawling community rebuilt after a fire had levelled the cannery established here by Robert Draney in 1893. There was now an enormous fish processing building, a sardine reduction plant and a liquor outlet with a beer-mug shaped aluminum door handle.img702
Enigmatic chunks of equipment were scattered near an open store. Wide boardwalks and wire-bound wooden pipes led west along the bay’s flanks to the shuttered “Namu Hilton”, a cookhouse and a bridge that crossed the Namu River to a bunkhouse and a gas dock.

The patient recovered enough for a bowl of soup in the Namu Café and we walked back to the lake that supplied the cannery power and looked for a rumored petroglyph. Returning to the cannery I felt odd: bedazzled, intrigued and excited.



Doll-like wooden buildings, with classic cannery-town green trim were set behind cement block tunnels. Lumbering dinosaur-sized metal structures teetered on pilings set into middens stuffed with clamshells, bones, rusting cable and steel bed frames. I seemed to be hyperventilating.

Did I love this or hate it? I’d lived in such small houses at Pacific Lime and loose metal siding twanging in the wind, a lonesome piece of machinery clanking its way around the bay were sounds from my happy childhood. And I’d been fascinated by middens since we turned northeast off Johnstone Straight and landed at the white shell beach spilling from Matilbi’s deep purple/brown shell-studded soil. I’d learned the seafront of a midden lied about its age when I saw a stovepipe and a porcelain cup wedged deep into the bottom of the dark mix at Karlukwees Village. After eleven nights sleeping in abandoned bays on the boat, I realized everything including my balance had become pretty fluid, but surely coastal culture was oddly re-sorted at Namu? An interface of rusted wire, petroglyph, beer bottles, Namu t-shirts, obsidian fragments and barnacled demijohns of poisonous chemicals were mixed with kelp and fish bones and infused with the intoxicating, addictive smell of plants that grow where salmon rivers meet the sea. I felt sandbagged by something I couldn’t identify.

img694Our friends departed to explore Goose Island further out to sea. After a dinner invitation for later from a pair of sail-boaters, we cruised 35 K north to Bella Bella where the Heiltsuk, whose village Namu had once been, came from as seasonal cannery workers. Exploration is thirsty work and we decided to have a drink in the waterside pub, but its blank stainless steel door and beer that came only in plastic glasses indicated a possibility of more action than we craved so we cruised back to Namu. It began to rain lightly and we gratefully joined the sail-boaters aboard their bigger craft. Cautioning us about two large black wolves seen just where we’d eaten our Spider Anchorage dinner reminded them of a Gilford Island potlatch. During a newly staged “Dance of the Animals”, the Wolf speaker had called out masked coastal creatures; bear, eagle, orca, raven and finally a swarm of bees, to dance. I could not sleep.

Home at Desolation Sound I was unable to paint as I’d done before. I folded sheets ripped from a roll of finely striped wrapping paper into signatures for a book into which I was able to release the journey’s intense residue. That fall, still alight with the vivid sensations I’d received at Namu, I searched for archeological information about the old cannery site. Between 1968 and 1994 an SFU Archeology team made a twenty-foot deep dig behind the boardwalk bunkhouse and another at the Namu River’s mouth. A burial was found dating to c. 3400 B.C. and, after digging down to the last evidence of human habitation, the archeologists estimated Namu had been occupied for at least 9000 years.

Nine thousand years?

The mid-coast of British Columbia, stretched further and further lengthwise by our journey, now presented me with an incomprehensible depth of time. The cannery’s thin white crust floated on a timeline of human activity I’d never associated with our coast. People had been cutting up fish in Namu Harbour for nine or, as it is now thought, 11,000 years. Where 104 years of cannery time interfaced with these extraordinary millennia of native activity, the ineluctable sea rose and fell, plucking and poking organic and inorganic material in and out of the levels. In a winter storm a thousand years of fish bone and shell might collapse seaward and bury within it a bed frame pushed over its edge by bulldozer after the fire.

Native men seining Sockeye at the mouth of Namu Creek. 1915

Native men seining Sockeye at the mouth of Namu Creekeek. 1915

I have never been the same.

It’s proposed by those who study such things that the north end of Vancouver Island may not have been glaciated as long as areas north and south and sites around Namu and out to Calvert Island more continuously occupied than elsewhere. Namu, located at the top of Queen Charlotte Sound, near the south entrance to Burke Channel leading inland to Bella Coola, and at the bottom of FitzHugh Sound leading north, could have functioned as a trading hub. Obsidian and quartz for micro blades and slate for knives, material found in the midden but unavailable close by, were moved in trade loops north, south and east. The cannery had sat for just a moment atop ages of First Nations lives. Their descendants, becoming cannery employees, melded their sophisticated food system with the incomer’s commercial enterprise. The industry then peaked and waned as transportation modernized and salmon stocks declined.

The next summer I began yearly journeys through the watery coastal world. Tac was beached in front of thirty-foot middens, I photographed the rock art I found everywhere and became fascinated by an ancient, Native engineered fort and two and three level village terraces in the Broughton Archipelago. There were voyages up deep inlets under the gaze of massive mountains and I gathered glacier water to paint with from thousand-foot waterfalls. Inspection of the series of old canneries strung along the coast and the Butter clam-packed middens everywhere led to collating the unrecorded evidence of pre-historic economies of shellfish cultivation in Native-built clam gardens.

[ – Clam Gardens: Aboriginal Mariculture On Canada’s West Coast]

Whether it was a carving on an intertidal rock, red pictograph images of a fish trap on a vast cliff, or a store suspended falling forward off the Butedale Cannery shore, evidence of people at work in the landscape generated paintings, installations, photographs and books addressing the dimensions of time and space that I’d felt at Namu.

Namu The recent Globe & Mail article about Namu cannery’s collapse led me to search online for relevant images and I found  Namu, a painting I’d made in 1991 and shown at The UBC Museum of Anthropology. Like the still unbound book waiting for resolution, it was a beginning of deep respect for the coastal interface of cultures.








Namu: A Modest Proposal – part 2

image001 Heiltsuck Chief Harvey Humchitt and collapsed reduction plant, Namu, Globe and Mail, 28th, 2014

A Modest Proposal: Plants and mycelium eat the thin white crust.

When something is impossible, a solution may seem equally so. Namu is falling toward the sea. As the structures decay and decant their contents into water and soil, it will corrupt the river’s salmon run and poison the ground and harbour for many years.  Since no owner, native group or Government agency can afford the remediation necessary to return the site to a neutral state, Namu calls for an innovative solution. The site’s unique interface of cannery debris, salmon cycle and 11,000 years of indigenous activity makes it ripe for a combined Artist/Ecologist/First Nations troop to investigate, assess, express and transform the site with phytoremedial plants, oil-eating mycelium and non-toxic fire. It would be their task to exhibit inventories, representations and text showing the damage done by the collapsing cannery and the repair possible to the Namu River estuary site in a project making visually evident the timeline and interface of coastal human industry with the ancient salmon cycle so obviously exposed in this spot. At Namu you can stand on time. Perhaps it can be represented.

Consuming the thin white crust: Materials & Process

image004 1) Humans working at the top of time down to the interface of indigenous and incommer cultures and identifying native and introduced plants, wood, metal, insulation material and chemicals.

2) Native and remedial plants eating (absorbing and transforming) chemicals and metals. The recording of plants colonizing the site, the identifying of useful phytoremedial plants and replanting to correct the disturbed environment.

3) Mycelium eating oil. Mycelium, the vegetative part of a fungus, is a gateway species for a variety of growth. If Oyster mushroom mycelium is introduced into a diesel soaked sawdust pile, it can within 6 weeks produce Oyster mushrooms that, in decay, attract flies, which lay eggs, attracting birds dropping seeds that sprout and grow until the pile is a green berm. A trench of alder chips impregnated with mycelium may consume noxious run-off to stop it entering water. A variety of waste material and mycelium can produce a substitute for Styrofoam packing material

4) Questions: a) Why? The aim is to use the cannery decline to frame the depth of First Nations culture.


image002 ART LAB: Materials

1) Phytoremedial plants: Sunflower used in Chernoble to remove arsenic, Caesium 137 and Strontium 90, Indian Mustard to absorb lead, Willow to absorb cadmium and copper and make biofuel. Invasive Ragweed filters out lead. Broad beans filter chemical elements.

2) Wood chipped and soaked with oils is consumed by Oyster mushroom mycelium. Burnt, wood makes charcoal pigment and drawing tools.

3) Fire makes soot pigment and ash, melts glass and aluminum.

4) Metal makes containers, tools for metal-point drawings, rust pigment and paint

5) Glass can be melted and re-formed.

6) Water samples can be taken as control for remediation process and as painting medium. [see Water/Colour,] .

7) Stone: for building and as tools to cut and draw.

8) Fish is food and fertilizer. Salmon eggs are a paint binder.

9) Asbestos insulation usually becomes landfill but can be recycled by transforming it into harmless silicate glass. A process of thermal decomposition at 1000–1250 °C produces a mixture of non-hazardous silicate phases, and at temperatures above 1250 °C it produces silicate glass. Microwave thermal treatment can be used in an industrial manufacturing process to transform asbestos and asbestos-containing waste into porcelain stoneware tiles, porous single-fired wall tiles, and ceramic bricks.

10) Further materials: Invention, waterpower, time and money.

FORM of production:

1) Visuals: drawing, photographs and video.

2) Text: prose, poetry, speech and publication.

3) Correction of Namu environment.

4) Where: in situ, online, in gallery, museum or publication.


References Early Human Occupation in British Columbia, Roy L. Carlson and Luke Della Bona, UBC Press, 1996.  Paul Stamets – Mycelium Running, Ten Speed Press, 2005. – Ian McAllister photos

Tongue of the Sea

image001 The Gitga’at Nation residents of Hartley Bay spent June 20th, , 2014 stringing a 20,000 foot crocheted “Chain of Hope” across the 11,544 foot entrance to Douglas Channel from Hawkesbury Island to their home village. This marks the proposed exit route for tankers carrying Alberta oil sands bitumen from Kitimat to Asia. The bitumen is to arrive on the coast from Alberta via the intended Northern Gateway Pipeline approved by the Canadian Government against a wave of public protest.

Gitga’at elder Lynne Hill, instigator of the crocheted chain, said: I look out my window and I can see the Douglas Channel and those tankers will be right in front of our door step. We can’t stand on the water as you would if you were going to blockade the road. I just thought that many women create beautiful things in their homes out of crochet — that somehow we can use that. Even though we are very small, we have everything to lose and we’re going to do what it takes to make sure we can try to protect what we have.


image006Made by women aged 4 to 80 of various coloured yarns, the chain was rolled on a huge spool and carried by traditional canoe across what were very choppy waters. Hill said they’d eventually take the “Chain of Hope” out of the water and symbolically burn it, as part of their aboriginal tradition is to use fire to send valuable possessions on to those who have died. The simplicity and delicacy of the chain laid at the threshold of an enormous environmental threat was a reminder of the need to protect the fragile ecosystems providing a large part of this remote village’s sustenance. Hill’s acknowledgement: Even though we are very small . . . is reminiscent of the great Dance of the Animals presented by some Kwagiulth people when, at the end, the children dance out masked as Bees and sing: Even though we are the last, we still count.


Writing Clam Gardens: Aboriginal Mariculture on Canada’s Westcoast and traveling into Gitga’at territory made me acutely aware of the effect any large vessel wake shocks and any bitumen or fuel spill might have on the delicate, interlocking coastal sea-life systems. No spill response protocol invented will ever be able to restore the area if there is an accident.  There will be an accident. The exit from Douglas Channel is small and encumbered by several islands that necessitate sharp turns in confined spaces. The super tankers, up to 334 m. long and 59 m. wide and holding material up to the equivalent of the contents of 138 Olympic sized pools, must pass Hawkesbury Island and angle west between Gil Island and Princess Royal Island, home of the famous white “Spirit Bears”, and then west pass Campania and Dewdney Islands to gain the open ocean. The B.C. ferry “Queen of the North,” still sunk at Gil Island, is it itself quite enough of an ongoing threat to local shellfish and rockfish habitat. It was the people of Hartley Bay who responded in the middle of the night to the sinking of the “Queen of the North, March 22, 2006. They rescued, clothed, fed and housed the 101 passengers and crew until help arrived. It was proposed that the new ferry built for that route be named the “Spirit of Hartley Bay” in acknowledgement of their generosity, but the B.C. Ferry Corporation refused.

image010Perhaps the public believes the recent Canadian Supreme Court decision allowing for a broader First Nations claim to their traditional territory will solve the bitumen transport threat through Aboriginal Land Claims. Are we relying on Gitga’at spirit to rescue us from our Federal Government ecologically threatening decision regarding Douglas Channel?