To the Charlottes: George M. Dawson's 1878 Survey of the by Douglas Cole, Bradley Lockner

By Douglas Cole, Bradley Lockner

Haida Gwai, the Queen Charlotte Islands, occupy a distinct position within the traditional and human heritage of the northwest coast of North the USA. Separated from the mainland via many kilometres of water, they preserve a distinctness that displays millennia of isolation. the world used to be nonetheless particularly untouched by way of eu exploration whilst, in the summertime of 1878, the younger geologist George M. Dawson arrived there on behalf of the Geological Survey of Canada. one of many box scientists of his time, Dawson drew maps, accumulated fossils, plant and bug specimens, and investigated the ethnology of the local humans. His own curiosity in local tradition makes his reviews and personal journals fascinating. mockingly, Dawson's trust that it used to be within the curiosity of the natives to renounce their lifestyle with a view to develop into built-in into Canadian society made him discover the significance of keeping a list in their cultures. He amassed artifacts and took images that have develop into widely recognized for his or her early depictions of Haida villages and structure.

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Indians. A very large Canoe here, now lately finished. 70 Valued at from $150 to 200 & the Indian who made it expects to be able to sell it to the Fort Rupert Indians for that sum. Of little real use but imposing on State occasions. Bought a basket of Clams71 from one of the Bella Bella Indians. Cleaned out some for specimens & had part of the rest in chowder for supper. Visited by a Canoe full of Haida Indians on their way to Bella Bella, & three days from Skidegate. They have besides dried fish & fish oil for trade with these tillicums72 when they get to Victoria, Some gulls eggs from rocks outside & a young deer.

When the promontory was rounded which gave George Dawson's 1878 Journal 27 us a view of the magnificent sheet of water at the entrance to this inlet, its dimensions magnified by the mist appeared grand. We knew not where to look for a harbour but by good luck got into this one. June 19. Heavy rain during the night, & morning opened with a steady downpour & light southerly wind. Delayed starting out for work, for some time, but at last tempted to go by an appearance of clearing up. Worked along a few miles of coast under great difficulties, the rain recommencing almost immediately after our departure & continuing very heavy, with masses of mist which prevented anything but the land in the immediate vicinity from being seen.

Took a couple of photographs81 & made cursory examination of rocks of vicinity. Weather remarkably fine, warm & summer-like but provokingly little wind for sailing. Where we are anchored in a snug little bay, rocky islets thickly tree clad down to the shore, with the wooded mountains of the N side of the Channel make a picturesque scene. An Indian house on the shore but has evidently not been inhabited for some time. See no sign of Indians. 82 The appearance of the land about Cape St James very remarkable.

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