Monday, January 17

Haida Pole Carver Takes Visitors on a Carving Shed Tour



A visit to Haida Gwaii would not be complete without meeting a local carver. Norman Price is a Haida elder in Skidegate who makes himself available to our trip participants. He is of the Raven Clan.

The pole he carved and raised in front of his house on the occasion of his 80th birthday a few years ago always draws the attention and interest of our guests. He has been carving and designing since his very early teens... watchmen, raven, mouse, eagles, bear and cubs... and beavers.

But the real treat is when he invites us over to his carving shed. His sense of humour is as vivid as ever, as he demonstrates how even master carvers must sometimes adapt to technological advances.

But not all modern tools are equally suited to Haida carving needs.

He also loves to work with argillite, a type of black slate sedimentaty rock harvested from a Queen Charlotte Islands quarry owned by the Haida , the material from which can only be used by Haida carvers... The material became more popular as a carving medium after the demised of the fur trade.

Totem poles were so highly prized they they fetched as much as 1 dollar per foot for a house pole and $1.50 per foot for a burial pole in institutions like the Field Museum in Chicago by the end of the 19th Century.