In January 2020, the two Kwakwaka’wakw (poles 20123 and 20124) that stand near Douglas Street were temporarily laid down so staff could upgrade their strong backs and supports. This work took place in the spring of 2020.
The original version of pole 20123 was a Gitxsan memorial pole, which stood in the village of Gitsegukla (Skeena Crossing) on the upper Skeena River. It was carved around 1900 in memory of a chief known as Wistis. The provincial museum acquired the original version in 1953 and Mungo Martin, David Martin and Henry Hunt carved this replica the following year (1954).
The original version of pole 20124 was also a Gitxsan memorial pole, raised jointly by two chiefs, Tu’pesu and Wawrala, in 1855 or 1885 at Gitsegukla. The name of the pole can be translated as “Great Protruding (Being) from the Lake." The provincial museum acquired the original pole in 1953.
The replica pole was carved in 1954 by Mungo Martin, David Martin, Henry Hunt and Tony Hunt, Kwakwaka’wakw carvers who worked to understand and replicate the styles of other First Nations where appropriate, as this Gitxsan-style pole demonstrates.
While the poles were down, conservation staff members took advantage of the easier access to remove biological growth from the surfaces.
The poles were raised again on July 27, 2020 during a private ceremony.