Museum publishes new canoe book

  • Jul. 14, 2010 6:00 a.m.

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Haida canoe can be found in a new book called Gina Waadluxan Tluu: The Everything Canoe, published by the Haida Gwaii Museum Press. The full-colour, soft-cover book offers insights from carvers, elders, artists and voices from the past on the great cedar canoes. These canoes, carved from a single old growth log and steamed to obtain their final shape, were once essential to Haida culture. Without an ocean-going vessel, hunting and gathering on the islands would have been next to impossible, as would trade with mainland tribes and alliances with neighbouring families. Readers will find out how the Haida were first taught to make canoes by supernaturals and how the bodies of supernatural beings, like SGaana or Killer Whale, can transform into canoes. The Haida language has also been influenced by the remarkable dug out vessels. Expressions of welcome or agreement can be traced back to the time of canoes. Modern-day carvers also discuss tips on design of vessels and paddles, and others talk of recent journeys undertaken by canoe. The book was originally conceived as resource book for islands teachers, to help them incorporate Haida cultural knowledge into a variety of different school subjects. Museum staff found that teachers were hungry for a resource that gave them easy access to insights into different facets of Haida history and present day culture. Since elders and carvers are not always available to come to the classroom, this book gives teachers a way to inform students in community knowledge holders’ own words. With almost 80 pages of current and archival pictures, book excerpts, quotes and more, The Everything Canoe, compiled and edited by Heather Ramsay and Kwiaahwah Jones, is a great resource for anyone interested in learning more about Haida culture.