"A West Coast totem pole that had become a Rocky Mountain icon but was removed from display in Jasper National Park last spring due to safety concerns, will be replaced with a new work of Haida art.
Federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice announced Sunday that Ottawa will spend between $250,000 and $300,000 to commission Haida artisans to create a new landmark for the Alberta townsite.
“This is a symbol that has been associated with the community for over 93 years,” said Mr. Prentice.
He hopes to see the new pole in Jasper within a year to take the place of the crumbling 12-metre-tall totem pole, carved in the 1870s from what was likely a 500-year-old red cedar tree. The historic pole properly belongs back in the British Columbia community of Masset and will be repatriated, he added.
The totem pole was crafted on the Queen Charlotte Islands, also known as the Haida Gwaii, and is believed to be the work of Simeon Stiltla (1833-1883) a master carver who plied his hand during what later became known as the golden age of Haida art. It initially served as a memorial dedicated to a dead chief.
One Haida art expert has described the totem pole, which is lovingly called the Jasper Raven Pole because of the raven perched on top, a “national treasure.” George MacDonald, director of the Bill Reid Centre for Northwest Coast Art Studies at Simon Fraser University, also placed a potential auction-block value on the relic at seven figures.
The totem pole had become a local and tourist favourite, but why a West Coast artifact would find itself in Alberta has always been a curiosity.
As the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway opened its route through the mountains to Prince Rupert, B.C., in the early 20th century, it acquired totem poles for promotional purposes. Although the purchase date is not clear, the raven pole arrived in Jasper in 1916 after leaving Masset the year before.
A section of untouched wood from the top had been removed, which cut down its original 18-metre height.
It moved several times within Jasper, but its last relocation in 1954 placed it on guard of the historic train station. Parks Canada took responsibility for the totem pole in 2000 when it purchased the town's rail stop from Canadian National Railway.
But weather had battered the beautiful pole. Time had stolen its structural integrity. Major work would need to be done to restore it to its original splendour. It has been repainted several times. A creosote pole was even affixed to give it additional support.
The federal agency determined it was beyond repair and in April 2009, removed it as a safety precaution."
Critiques | Translate
snunney (81885) 2009-09-22 4:30
Looks rather incongruous this totem pole surrounded by houses. Nevertheless, an interesting work of art well presented by you. Interesting also to learn of its subsequent fate.
Budapestman (82620) 2009-09-22 4:48
a splendid photo of this imposing totem pole, the composition is spectacular, the environment is beautiful. I like the cosy mood and the vivid colours, Tfs! Have a nice day!
pierrefonds (56116) 2009-09-22 5:10
The totem leads our eyes toward the mountain which is giving depth to the composition. It is also allowing us to see the details and colors of the totem. The intensity of the light has a good effect o=n the colors. Have a nice day.
JanD (0) 2009-09-22 7:49
Wonderful totem, amazing sculpture, very interesting mountains in the background. Good colors.
barrufeto_77 (28886) 2009-09-22 8:02
I've never seen ab object like this so....excellent. It's something new for me.
Great details and lovely snowy mountain as a background...
jurek1951 (41406) 2009-09-22 8:23
this is a fantastic landscap photo. the color and the composition of the picture was successfull.
paura (47166) 2009-09-22 8:48
Very interesting object shown in your well framed photography. Very nice composition.
John_F_Kennedy (42062) 2009-09-22 8:55
Unusual sculpture, strange but wonderful. Excellent light, colours and textures. Well done.
feather (51130) 2009-09-22 9:18
It does seem to be a strange location for the totem pole. You had no option but use a vertical format to fit it in and the flag and mountain are interesting details for a sense of place.
Graal (96452) 2009-09-22 23:40
unusual place and presentation. Amazing totem pole. Good photojob. Rich archive You have. I like it.
hay_kes (30436) 2009-09-23 0:38
Very interesting capture vith nice details.TFS.
jemaflor (83046) 2009-09-23 4:08
Well with the composition and the red car, iknow this place but in summer, Interesting to see with snow on the mountains.
batalay (35197) 2009-09-23 22:35
Remarkable and timeless site! In fact, since it is now defunct, perhaps you should symbolically converted it into B&W (although the red car serves as a dramatic highlight).
AiresSantos (56155) 2009-09-24 2:14
Amazing details in this fine picture from Jasper
Beautiful colours, very well framed and done
JCG (35129) 2009-09-25 0:10
It has being photographed more once this splendid totem which must be the symbol of the city. An impressive height that your catch of sight I accentuate find. The environment must be splendid according to what one can see on the image. Interesting photograph just like your note, thank you Chris.
With all my friendships and with soon,
gunbud (34066) 2009-09-25 19:55
Excellent cature of this beautiful landmark which such a rich history.
The brightly colored carvings are very well seen against the blue sky and snow capped mountain backdrop.
sacavem (18610) 2009-09-27 4:45
Very good note, my friend.
Very nicely captured and composed shot from a very good POV.