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Newsletter #151, September 17, 2008

Things to do in the Neighbourhood - Museum of Anthropology Grounds

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The UBC Museum of Anthropology is one of Canada's foremost museums, renowned for its Northwest Coast collections and collaborative approach to working with First Nations and other cultural communities. In order to extend its role as a public and research institution, they have embarked upon a major expansion project, increasing the size by 50% by 2010, and creating unprecedented opportunities for research, teaching, and public enjoyment.

In May 2008, they completed construction of the new wing (Phase I of the project), into which they have temporarily installed all of the objects from their former Visible Storage Galleries. The existing building is now being renovated as all of the displays have been moved into the new wing and once complete, those objects will be moved back into the new Multiversity Galleries (formerly Visible Storage).

Museum of Anthropology
This dramatically re-designed space will incorporate magnificent custom-built cases now being manufactured in Italy by Goppion, as well as interpretation spaces, a presentation circle, and electronic access to information, images, and rich media related to the objects in MOA's collection.
Museum of Anthropology
UBC Museum of Anthropology So the MoA is now closed until March 3, 2009 but some of the work is a re-design of the grounds and so is well worth a visit to watch the progress, and if you haven't been there before, to explore the First Nations and World War II era artifacts on the grounds, such as remnants of the three gun emplacements that were built in 1939.

Two are still visible and one has been incorporated into the museum as the rotunda displaying Bill Reid's sculpture of the Haida Creation Myth, "The Raven and the First Men."

The image is also a feature of the current Canadian $20 bill.

Museum of Anthropology
The new wing is located to the right of the main entrance. It is behind a berm and is barely visible from the sidewalk.
Imich Siiyem - Welcome Good PeopleMuseum of Anthropology

The first totem to greet you as you enter the grounds, Imich Siiyem - Welcome Good People, carved by Susan point, an artist from Musqueam First Nations.

The figure acknowledges the estimated 10,000 years that the ancestors of the Musqueam people have lived on these lands and through the present generation, represents their continuation into the future.

The figure holds an animal called a Fisher, which has the ability to carry power in either positive or negative form. the head of the figure is adorned with celestial images. The U-shaped channel above the head would have been used to secure one end of a roof beam. The image on the base of the figure represents a welcome to all the people of the world.

The carving was commissioned by the Royal Bank to mark its 100th anniversary of Banking in BC and the log was donated by International Forest Products.

Musqueam House Posts

The Musqueam and their predecessors on whose traditional territory you now stand have been here for an estimated 10,000 years. Musqueam artist Susan Point found inspiration in two 19th century house posts from her home community and interpreted them into a contemporary context. In Musqueam, art was created out of individual inspiration and most often viewed by those inside a house.

The house posts hold roof beams which would support rafters. The in turn supported long interlocking planks of red cedar which formed the roof of the house. As you pass down the path and through this "house" and view the water and mountains beyond, you will have an opportunity to reflect on those who have been here in the past and who continue to create for the future.

The Haida House complex, located outside the Museum (and visible from the Great Hall), includes structures that would have been present in a nineteenth century Haida village. Constructed in 1962, this complex includes a large family dwelling and a smaller mortuary house similar to those used traditionally to hold the dead.

In front of the houses are examples of memorial and mortuary poles dating from 1951 to the present. Haida artist Bill Reid and 'Namgis artist Doug Cranmer oversaw the construction of the houses, and carved several of the adjacent poles. Other poles on display were carved by Jim Hart (Haida), Chief Walter and Rodney Harris (Gitxsan), and Mungo Martin (Kwakwaka'wakw).

UBC Museum of Anthropology
The pole on the left is a Haida Memorial Pole, designed by Bill Reid and carved by Bill Reid and Douglas Cranmer between 1960 and 1966. On the top, there is usually a raven, but it is being restored. Beneath that are 8 plain segments representing a chief's hat. Below that is a beaver with a bear cub between its ears and a human face on its tail.

The smaller house in the background is a mortuary house for important chiefs and leaders. The body would be placed in a box crouched in a fetal position. The body was kept here for a period of mourning and feasting and the carving of a mortuary pole.

The next pole is a double mortuary pole. The coffin box would be supported on the tops of the poles and the person would be identified by the carving on the facing board. This one is carved with the image of a shark.

The larger house would be residential and the pole in front is topped by Watchmen, followed by Shark with Orca, then Eagle with a fish in its claws, then an Orca enclosing a Human.

The fifth pole is a single mortuary pole. The coffin box would be lowered into a hollow carved in the top of the pole, then covered with boards. The facing board is carved with an Eagle, under which are a Human Mother with Child, Then a Grizzly Bear with Cub.

Museum of AnthropologyMemorial pole of Chief Kalilix

This Kwagiutl style pole was carved by Mungo Martin in 1951.

On the top is a Thunderbird, beneath that is an Ancestral Chief, then a Raven, then an Orca and on the bottom is another Ancestral Chief wearing a blanket, neck ring and head ring.

It is opposite to and facing the two houses on a small rise. English Bay and Mount Hollyburn in West Vancouver is in the background.

Just over the rise, there is a lot of new landscaping going on and it is not yet clear how it will end up.

Over on the right in the picture below, there is an older totem pole and just behind it is a restored gun battery from the Second World War.

Point Grey Battery was the most heavily armed of the 5 coast artillery forts built in 1939 to defend the Port of Vancouver.

With World War II imminent, the men of the Royal Canadian Artillery were called out to man the battery in August of 1939. Following the War, the 15th Coast Regiment RCA continued to train at the battery until 1948 when the guns were removed.

UBC Museum of Anthropology
By 1950 most of the building had been turned over to the University to provide what was known as Fort Camp student housing.
UBC Museum of Anthropology
One of the battery's 6" Coast Artillery Guns in 1943. With a range of 14,000 yards, almost 8 miles, it could fire a 100 lb shell at a rate of 6 rounds a minute.
UBC Museum of Anthropology
Battery Observation Post. From here the battery commander directed and controlled the fire of the guns. Two 60 inch searchlights on the beach below were remote controlled from here. Nothing of this structure remains.
UBC Museum of Anthropology
No. 9 searchlight with a brightness of 800 million candle power could illuminate night targets for the guns out to a distance of 3,500 yards. The light towers were located on the beach, now the north end of Wreck Beach, our world famous clothing optional beach. The towers are still there.
UBC Museum of Anthropology
An ammunition Magazine which stored 500 rounds of 6" high explosive projectiles was located under each gun emplacement. An electrically operated hoist carried the shells and cartridges to the surface.
UBC Museum of Anthropology
The North battery has been restored. Restoration of the current site has been a joint project of the 15th Field Artillery Regiment museum and the British Columbia Heritage Trust.
UBC Museum of Anthropology
The south battery is still there, but has become overgrown
UBC Museum of Anthropology
Ah, why we live here. A view over English Bay to the snow capped mountains of Howe Sound.

Museum of Anthropology at UBC
6393 N.W. Marine Drive

See the other newsletter about UBC:
The UBC Centennial Stamp

Museum of Anthropology web site.

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UBC Walking Tour

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Back to index

Newsletter #152
Things to do in the Neighbourhood - Kerrisdale Village

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