Fotoeins Fotografie

exploration of home: 鹹水埠溫哥華? Or elsewhere?

Posts from the ‘First Nations’ category

New Zealand, true-colour image from NASA Terra satellite, December 2002.

New Zealand: Māori anthems Pokarekare Ana, E Ihowa Atua

New Zealand is located in a part of our planet that’s about as far as one can go. The country provides easy inspiration with her striking scenery and friendly people. Memories remain sharp and fresh after multiple visits to Wellington and Auckland, as well as a solid three weeks in early-winter on the South Island. Truth is: I’m in love with “Aotearoa“. The longer I’m in country, the more the land reveals deeper insights about her culture and language.

New Zealand has three official languages: English, Māori, and New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). Immediate connections to this land are two Māori songs, “Pokarekare Ana” and “E Ihowa Atua”, which are the unofficial and official national anthems, respectively.

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Haida House exhibit, Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Toppling 60000 photos at home in Vancouver

Throughout 2012, I traveled around the world (RTW), where I managed to make the 25000th exposure here in Vancouver in January, and 50000th exposure in Berlin, Germany in October. Thankfully, my 5-year old entry-level digital-SLR camera survived the trip, and is still delivering decent photographs.

Given the number of photos I continued to make, I knew I’d flip the “number counter” once again when I completed my RTW and returned to Vancouver. Sure enough, I turned the counter over for the 6th time in under 5 years.

I returned to the Museum of Anthropology (MOA), world famous for their collection and archive of cultural art, sculptures, and monuments from First Nations’ peoples along the Canadian west coast. With my previous visit to the MOA taking place over 20 years ago, my return was a happy one. The visit itself will be the subject of another post, as I highlight here the 60,000th photo, one of the “Haida House exhibit”.

The accompanying caption reads:

The two Haida houses reconstructed here on the grounds of the museum were probably the first of their kind to be built in the 20th century. The larger house represents a family dwelling and the smaller one a mortuary chamber. Both demonstrate the traditional Haida post-and-beam architecture.

These houses were designed by John Smyly and constructed by John Barnes of the University’s (UBC) Physical Plant, under the direction of Haida artist Bill Reid. The work took 3.5 years, from late 1958 to early 1962. The houses and poles were first installed at Totem Park on the west end of the University campus, and were relocated to the grounds of the Museum of Anthropology in 1978. The big house is equiped with a fire pit and lighting so that it can be used for workshops, receptions, and theatrical performances.

The house poles and three of the four free standing Haida poles were carved between 1958 and 1962 by Bill Reid with the assistance of Douglas Crammer, of the Nimpkish Kwakwak’wakw (Kwagiutl) band of Alert Bay. The fourth free standing pole, a copy of the Masset house frontal pole, was carved by Jim M. Hart, a Masset Haida, under Reid’s guidance. It was completed and ceremonially installed in 1962.

Previous rollovers :
•   15000th photo with the 450D/XSi in Berlin, Germany
•   25000th photo with the 450D/XSi in Vancouver, Canada
•   50000th photo with the 450D/XSi in Berlin, Germany

… I might be wrong, but there seems to be a distinct pattern … or?

I made the photo above on 30 January 2013, and this post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at

Totem poles at Brockton Point, Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC, Canada,

My Vancouver : how totem poles put a spell on me

The pull is undeniable.

Under overcast skies and a forecast of heavy rainshowers, I walk out one January morning from Vancouver’s West End and head out towards Stanley Park for a morning walk. Past Coal Harbour and Deadman’s Island, I arrive finally at the totem poles near Brockton Point.

Totem poles, Brockton Point, Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada
Totem poles, Brockton Point, Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada

The totem was the British Columbia Indian’s “Coat of Arms”. Totem poles are unique to the northwest coast of B.C. and lower Alaska. They were carved from Western red cedar and each carving tells of a real or mythical event. They were not idols, nor were they worshipped. Each carving on each pole has a meaning. The eagle represents the kingdom of the air, the whale the lordship of the sea, the wolf the genius of the land, and the frog the transitional link between land and sea.

I’ve seen and known these totem poles for over four decades. There are few people around in mid-morning and conditions are cold and damp. But is it quiet because there aren’t many people around, or because this place with its towering poles induce an atmosphere of reverence?

Once upon a time in the Seventies, I was on a school-sponsored field-trip to Stanley Park with the required stop at the totem poles. I thought they were a little intimidating at the time, but I also thought they were beautiful wood carvings. They’re just wood. From within the trees, a call went out, loudly and slowly, like sad wailing. The totems had spoken directly to me, and they were very unhappy.

Naturally, this scared the crap out of me. Who knew hoots from a barred owl would strike such fear in the hearts of children? Despite learning more about them, my irrational fear of owls and totems remained for years.

I no longer fear the fearsome-looking totems; this place is one of my favourite spots in Stanley Park. But every time I look at them, there’s a tiny streak of … something … which never fails to hit the mark.

The totem poles at Stanley Park are one of the most visited tourist attractions in Vancouver, and they’re one of many long-standing memories anchoring me to this place. The following two totem poles are the most familiar.

Thunderbird house post

Thunderbird house post, totem pole, Brockton Point, Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada

Thunderbird house post, totem pole, Brockton Point, Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada

Top-to-bottom: thunderbird, grizzly bear holding a human.

hunderbird house post, totem pole, Brockton Point, Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada

Yesssss, stare into the thunderbird’s eyes …

Thunderbird house post, totem pole, Brockton Point, Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada

Thunderbird House Post : Carved house posts are used in traditional First Nations cedar houses to support the huge roof beams. This pole is a replica of a house post carved by Kwakwaka’wakw artist Charlie James in the early 1900s. Tony Hunt carved this replica in 1987 to replace the older pole (which is) now in the Vancouver Museum. James experimented with colours and techniques creating a bold new style that has influenced generations of artists including his step-son Mungo Martin and grand-daughter Ellen Neel. A pole by Ellen Neel stands to the left.

Chief Skedans mortuary pole

Chief Skedans mortuary pole, totem pole, Brockton Point, Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada

Top-to-bottom: Moon (a chief’s crest), mountain goat, grizzly bear, whale.

Chief Skedans mortuary pole, totem pole, Brockton Point, Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada

Top-to-bottom: Moon (a chief’s crest), mountain goat, two tiny figures.

Chief Skedans mortuary pole, totem pole, Brockton Point, Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada

Chief Skedans Mortuary Pole: An older version of this pole was raised in the Haida village of Skidegate about 1870. It honours the Raven Chief of Skedans and depicts the chief’s hereditary crests. The two tiny figures in the bear’s ears are the chief’s daughter and son-in-law who erected the pole and gave a potlatch for the chief’s memorial. The rectangular board at the top of the original pole covered a cavity that held the chief’s remains. Haida artist Bill Reid with assistant Werner True carved this new pole in 1964. Don Yeomans recarved the top moon face in 1998.

With Translink public transit, take bus route 19 “Stanley Park” westbound from downtown (CBD) to the route’s terminus at Stanley Park Bus Loop. The subsequent walk east through the park takes about 15 to 20 minutes to reach the totem poles near Brockton Point. The walk will likely take longer as you stop to admire views of the harbour and the city skyline.

I made the photos above on 6 January 2012 with the Canon EOS450D camera and 50mm prime-lens (80mm effective focal length on crop-frame). This post appears originally on Fotoeins Fotopress at as

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