Legends of Vancouver by E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake)


Celebrated author Pauline Johnson was among 12 iconic Canadian women being considered in 2016 to appear on a new Canadian banknote. Legends of Vancouver, which retells the stories of the Squamish Peoples, was her last published work.

Emily Pauline Johnson was the youngest daughter of an English mother and a hereditary Mohawk chief and Crown interpreter. Her Mohawk name was Tekahionwake, meaning “double wampum”. She was born in 1861 at Chiefswood, the family home, built on a 225-acre estate on the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford in present-day Ontario.

Johnson published her first poem in 1884, and from 1892 to 1909 she toured across Canada, the United States and England giving dramatic performances of her poems. In Vancouver in 1906, she met Chief Joseph Capilano (Su-á-pu-luck), and began the friendship that inspired Legends. Johnson, who was suffering from breast cancer, was rallied by the community who published the work in 1911 to popular acclaim, but critical review.

Never married, Johnson died in Vancouver on March 7, 1913. A stone monument and fountain were unveiled in her honour in 1922 in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. In 1945 Johnson was named a Person of National Historic Significance, and in 1991 Chiefswood was designated a National Historic Site.

This fourth-edition copy of Legends of Vancouver was published with a leather cover stitched with a native design and embroidered with coloured thread and copper wire. It is among nearly two dozen copies of Legends held in the BC Archives library.

This object selected by Claire Gilbert. View Profile »