Friday, 28 June 2013

Post #3 Chemainus, Murals and Stz'uminus First Nation

They have worked hard, in Chemainus, after 
industries began to change. The 1858 town was created around the sawmill, but eventually the sawmill closed in the early 80s. Low demand for logs, stagflation, high prices, as well as Post-Fordism, says Wikipedia. There is logging in town, now. We could see much action from our room!

With the exploitation of furs on the west coast, e.g., the sea otter trade
The view outside our hotel room!
by 1929 the sea otter had been extirpated from British Columbia with small colonies remaining only in parts of Alaska and California.

The Russians first traded the furs for Chinese tea, silk and porcelain. 
Some made big bucks off of the lumber industry,
so-called lumber barons

The name, Chemainus, comes from a legendary Native Shaman and prophet Tsa-meeun-is (Broken Chest), who survived a massive wound in his chest and became a powerful chief.

They began to create murals, from provincial funding, that depict the history of Chemainus. (Read more here: Chemainus Festival of Murals Society.) This is a great tourist draw, with delightful shops and B & Bs. The Chemainus Theatre is another big draw. (More on that later!) 

The older generation
by Barrie Shaw-Rimmington on Willow St.
The town is a rainbow of faces, as well as a mix of rich and poor, old and young. 

There are huge houses up the hill, with a view of the mountains that are spectacular. There are quite a few seasonal residents, as well.

This mural is by Ygartua (1991)
We have a painting of his, too!
Colonialisation brought ships from the UK, Chinese and Japanese workers, east Indian, Scots and Germans, too. Thankfully, the murals include the original Native People. It was in 2009 that Chemainus First Nation reverted back to the original Hul'qumi'num language name. They are now called Stz'uminus First Nation (1300 members), and they are a member government of the Naut'sa mawt Tribal Council. 
Whale watching is a popular tourist attraction in B.C.
The Cowichan Valley Regional District, and Salish Sea  has been the home of their ancestors for countless generations. They call the basin the Salish Sea, which includes the Strait of Georgia, Stait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound, Gulf Islands, San Juan islands, etc., covers an amazing ecosystem of flora and fauna. The trees are enormous, well-watered from prevailing winds bringing sea water in and results in lush growth.

There is a Festival of Murals Society!
In 1983, it won the prestigious New York Downtown Revitalization Award for its redevelopment of the town core. It has since gained world-wide acclaim for the integrity and superb artistry of its huge depictions of the town's history with 41 outdoor murals plus carvings and statues.

It was artist Emily Carr who made the totem poles famous. She visited the Chemainus Valley, and painted Chemainus Bay in 1924-25. This was an interesting time for women, as they began to venture forth and make a name for themselves. 
A mural honouring Emily Carr's art
(A drive-by shooting!)
Comments by the Chemainus Festival of Murals regarding Emily Carr:
Emily, being a naturalist, had a reverence and fascination for the First Nations of the British Columbia coast. During her visit to the Ucluelet Indian Reserve on Vancouver Island in 1898, the Nuu-Chah-Nulth people gave her the name "Klee Wyck", which means "laughing one”. She once said, "Indian people and their art touched me deeply". 

Another by Ygartua


Red said...

You are really taking in all the sights. It's not a place you could walk through. there's stuff all over the place.

Powell River Books said...

I love their murals. Some towns have a few, but they have made it into a citywide art experience. Sound like you are having fun on the Island. Here's a big wave from across the Strait. - Margy

Joyful said...

So many wonderful murals. They are real pieces of art.