In 1966 Sam Henderson’s Kwakiutl Bear Pole was commissioned for downtown Campbell River as part of the Route of the Totems.

Kwakiutl Bear Pole to be replaced

If you have driven past the Museum at Campbell River this week you may have noticed that something is missing.

The Kwakiutl Bear Pole carved by Sam Henderson, which has been standing in front of the Museum overlooking Discovery Passage, had to be taken down on Tuesday.

The pole was part of the Route of the Totems Centennial project in 1966. It was located in downtown Campbell River until 2002 when it was moved to its current location.

Over the decades since the pole was commissioned, issues of ownership and responsibility for its maintenance became clouded.

Conservation of the pole, as well as of other poles commissioned for this route, was not considered at the outset and over time there was deterioration.

Unfortunately, the deterioration of Sam Henderson’s Kwakiutl Bear Pole has left it beyond repair despite earlier attempts to restore it.

The removal of the pole was done under the watchful eye of the Henderson family. The pole is being returned to the family, specifically to Sam Henderson’s son Master Carver Bill Henderson.

Bill, who is the current head carver at the Campbell River Indian Band’s carving shed, will be the lead carver on a replacement pole that has been commissioned by the Museum.

This new 20-foot pole will be a testament to the continuing carving traditions in our community. The museum plans to take this opportunity to document and film the carving process and create a film that will allow us to see how the knowledge of carving is passed from one generation to the next.

Sandra Parrish, Executive Director at the Museum at Campbell River, looks forward to this project, to be undertaken in 2016.

“Although we are saddened that the older pole had to be removed, the commissioning of a new pole is an exciting opportunity for the Museum and for the community as a whole.”


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