Centennial Totem Pole

Centennial Totem Pole

Media

Cedar, paint

Artists

John Edward Neel, Lloyd Wadhams Sr., and Robert Whonnock

Location

Poirier Community Centre, 630 Poirier Street

Date

Saturday, October 28, 1967

Statement of Significance

In 1967, to commemorate Canada’s 100th birthday, the Columbian Newspaper initiated The Centennial Totem Pole (PDF) project. The project is a tribute to the local First Nations, and reflects on the changing attitudes of the public, moving towards an inclusive vision of the community and its place in Canadian history.

The pole is carved in the Kwakwaka’wakw tradition of North West Coast First Nations art, as local Coast Salish First Nations art practice was not publicly prevalent at the time. The figures on the pole represent from top to bottom, Thunderbird (with bear depicted on his chest), Raven with Salmon and Killer Whale with man on his back.

Background

On December 1, 1991 the City added a fifty year time capsule adjacent to the totem pole in celebration of its 1891 to 1991 Centennial. The capsule honours the early pioneers of our community, and will be opened on December 1, 2041.

On May 15, 2007, the totem pole was relocated slightly northwest of its original location, as part of the City’s Dogwood Pavilion expansion and improvement project.

About the Artists

  1. Lloyd Wahams, Senior, 1938 to 1992
  2. John Edward Neel, Junior, 1939 to 1971
  3. Robert Whonnock, Dates Unknown

Lloyd Wadhams Senior was the eldest child born to Don and Mary (Dawson) Wadhams. Lloyd learned to carve on the beaches of Alert Bay. Sitting on Charlie James’ carving shed, Mungo Martin and James Sewid taught him the traditional art form. As a child he used to watch them carve with his uncle Don Dawson and his cousin Amos Dawson. Every day they would carve little canoes and totem poles to sell to tourists.

Lloyd carried on the tradition of teaching carving to his cousins, nieces and nephews of the Shaunessy and Sewid families. Lloyd sold most of his work to galleries. As a commercial artist he was constantly experimenting with tools and methods to produce his art. He worked mostly with wood, silver, gold and print media.

At one time Wadhams lived in Maillardville, a neighbourhood within the City of Coquitlam known for its French heritage.