Totem Poles in Vancouver

The First Nations culture and heritage is very present in Vancouver and Victoria. Almost every where we went, we would be able to find totem poles. I think these structures are amazing and I’m always in awe of the work of these artists.

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Bill Reid Gallery, Vancouver
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Stanley Park, Vancouver
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Granville Island, Vancouver
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Museum of Anthropology, UBC
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Museum of Anthropology, UBC
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Butchart Gardens, Victoria
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Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, North Vancouver

A few things I learned from our Victoria tour guide. (He was talking to us while he was driving! I have never had a tour guide who also drove the vehicle.)

  • Some are story poles; usually the story of the village or a great person.
  • Others are welcoming poles.
  • The top of the welcoming pole is usually a Thunderbird or a human with detachable wings/arms.
  • With arms, strangers are welcome to the village and will be greeted warmly.
  • Without arms, no one but those belonging to the village may enter as there may be ceremonial practices happening or the village may be in mourning.
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