Showing posts from April, 2014

The White Church (part 2)

The weathered church that stands today in Friendly Cove was erected in 1956, for the purposes of “educating” the people of Yuquot. In the vestibule, old plaques and photographs are displayed, memories and keys to the significance of this place. One article in particular captured my attention. It tells a familiar story; one of loss, and betrayal, and exploitation.
In 1904, the entire Nootka Whalers’ Washing House, a 5x6 metre building, plus its contents was “purchased” from two elders and spirited away under cover of night. It was whaling season, and most of the community was off at work. A shady deal, no doubt, that the whalers would have objected to had they known. George Hunt, working under the famous anthropologist, Franz Boas, orchestrated the deal, which reportedly gained two men $500.00 but lost a community something sacred and precious. It ended up in the American Museum in New York, and has stayed there, in the basement, for the past century. This is an image of the contents:


It was a Rough Night

“Some say, the earth was feverish and did shake” (Macbeth II.3)
It was a rough night. Aye. Last night, I was lying in my comfy bed reading when the bed began to move as if several people were holding it, and shaking it. My first reaction was to get out of the bed and stare at it. (I can hear you laughing, Tara.) But, my immediate thought was of paranormal activity. I kid you not.
The last couple of days I’ve been thinking about the people who lived and died in this cove. Maquinna’s people decapitated twenty-five sailors and placed their heads on sticks around the cove, in retaliation for prior injury done to his people. What happened to their bodies? Do their bones lie crusted with algae and kelp beneath the waves, or did they burn with the ship? And then, there are countless Mowachaht/Muchalaht people, who died here over the millennia due to various reasons, and suffered through diseases like smallpox. And the sailors and fishermen whose boats have capsized and sunk beneath the waves.

The White Church (part 1)

Emily Carr is a woman I admire. Passionate and true to herself, she rejected Victorian decorum to explore the world. This was something that young women just did not do at the turn of the century. She travelled to San Francisco, London, and Paris to learn her craft. Heavens! She even dared to ride horseback like a man.
Fearless, determined, and open-minded, Emily is so much more than her art. Travelling by boat and canoe, often with only a guide and her wee dog, she explored the West Coast, sketching and painting Haida, Salish, and Nuu-chah-nulth villages. Like a west wind, whispering and screaming with paint, she drew our gaze to vanishing peoples and cultures.
An independent women, Emily supported herself as best she could by teaching art, and running a boarding house; though these chores must have stifled her creative process. Still, through it all she survived, and she painted. And, when she could no longer travel or camp or even move around much, she began to write.
In 1929, Emily C…


Two Days of Brilliant Sunshine Spur Activity in Friendly Cove. (Another Billy Pretty Headline).
I was excited this weekend to be able to record CLR, meaning clear sky, in the weather book. We even managed calm and rippled a few times too.

Early Saturday morning, the crew of The Bartlett appeared to refill our diesel tanks. It’s always exciting to have visitors.

It’s still cool here, even in the sun, but we stood outside, watching and chatting, as the tanks were filled. Later, we were invited to join the crew for an excellent shipboard BBQ. In the afternoon, Lucy and I walked the beach. You just can't pass up a sunny afternoon. By bedtime, 7pm, I was exhausted after a day spent outside.

Sunday, the weather held. Mark went out to check his prawn traps and discovered that he’d caught another octopus. This one will transform into halibut--apparently, halibut love to eat octopus. Another link in the chain.

It was low tide, so Lucy and I decided to attempt a rock climb across the slick bracke…

Signs of Spring

Signs of spring are everywhere in Friendly Cove. Generations of lightkeepers have planted bulbs around the station, so daffodils and grape hyacinths flash splashes of colour and cheer on fogbound days. Yesterday, while the sun shone on the Lower Mainland and bees sang in the blossoming trees, we clung to the rock in a pale blanket of drizzle and fog for the entire day. Visibility two miles. Weather changes frequently. Case in point: thirty minutes ago the sun was shining, the sky blue; now, it is almost overcast again.
When the clouds do break, Lucy and I wander down the trails to the cove, breathing in the sun. Along the pathway, pink fawn lilies blossom. Snakes surprise me, slithering from the threat of my rubber boots, while birds sing in the echoing waves. 

The herring did not spawn this year at Friendly Cove, and Ray has taken away the branches that laid waiting on the dock for weeks. He told me it was sad for his people. First Nations along coastal BC have collected Pacific herrin…

Sunshine and Sea Otters

It’s amazing how beautiful everything looks and feels when the sun appears after several days of rain and fog. This morning we are blessed with a shining dawn. These towering cumulous are a welcome sight against the azure sky.

Birds are singing, and even our resident sea otter is back in the cove foraging breakfast. I think there are a pair living here in the shallow kelp forest. A member of the weasel family, they are adept at using tools, and a joy to watch. They protect our kelp forests by preying on the urchins, crabs, mussels, and other marine species that would consume them.

Ever wanted to see beneath the waves like a sea otter? Jon Gross and Keith Clements are underwater photographers and scuba divers who have amassed a dazzling array of photographs and movies.

Enhydra lutris kenyoni, the Northern Sea Otter, was abundant along the Pacific Coast, until hunted and traded to near extinction in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. Their dense luxurious coats were coveted by both F…

Sunday in Paradise

Days melt into days here on the lights. When I rose at 4am this morning to survey the situation, I was rather shocked to find us completely surrounded by fog. I wandered up to the land bridge for a better look. When I glanced up at the sky, I was amazed to see stars! It seemed somehow bizarre to be surrounded by fog with zero visibility, and yet able to see stars. This is something we call "partially obscure" and record like this: -X

But, weather changes with a blink in this place. Three hours later, dawn appeared, just like this:

So far, the herring have not come, despite Ray's best efforts. Every day he goes looking for them. He watches the birds and the animals. It's a peaceful place, and I don't think I could be more relaxed. Here are a couple of other photos of the station:

A Peek at Yuquot

I sit by the beach and try to imagine what this landscape looked like hundreds, or even thousands, of years ago. Surely, rocks are the pillars of the earth, and ocean tides ebb and flow forever. This space cannot have changed much over time. The sea tumbles rocks into pebbles, old trees fall, young trees grow, and totems decay while others appear. 

Yuquot means “where the winds blow from many directions.” Indeed, in the few days I’ve been here tuning into the weather, the winds have shifted often. This is the ancestral home of the Mowachaht First Nation, and the centre of Nuu-chah-nulth Territory. To learn more about the culture, visit Nuuchahnulth Cultureand hear it from the people.
The land juts out into Nootka Sound. I imagine the village houses, framed from solid cedar posts and banked with cedar planks, stretching along the shore of Friendly Cove. It’s said, twenty longhouses once stood here. This sandy sheltered beach fronts them. Behind them, a long pebbled beach stretches from Y…