Rebecca and IMu made this mini maquette of one of the “Two Sisters” before STORYTELLING goes to final production. It is exciting to see a 3D preview! The finished STORYTELLING sculptures will be 62″ tall and fabricated from cut aluminum.
Pacific Salmon once thrived in the many creeks and streams that flow through the area now known as Vancouver. This iconic species connects the land, water, people and animals and has always been an integral part of the life and culture of the people of Canada’s West Coast. Legends tell us of the determination and persistence of the Salmon and how they serve as symbols of abundance, wealth, prosperity, dependability and renewal. Facing the threat of extinction the Pacific Salmon were formally designated BC’s official fish in 2013.
Pacific Salmon – Official Fish of British Columbia
Brewery Creek, one of Vancouver’s most important creeks, once flowed openly from what is now 41st Avenue down St. George Street and into False Creek along with dozens of other nearby creeks and streams. It was named Brewery Creek by settlers because it provided water and energy to a number of small breweries established along its banks around the turn of the 20th century.
Waterfall on Heather St at 9th Avenue c.1909
A working-class neighbourhood grew around these breweries and factories at Main St and Kingsway. Connected to downtown Vancouver by new streetcar routes, ‘Mount Pleasant’ became Vancouver’s first suburb. By the 1950s many of the smaller breweries along Brewery Creek had been bought out by larger companies and relocated elsewhere. The creek, and many others like it, were thought to be no longer important and as the area developed for residential and commercial use the creeks and streams were covered or filled and eventually built on top of.
View of Vancouver from Mt. Pleasant c.1892
Vancouver’s impressive annual rainfall (1153.1 mm) however, still drains through this entire watershed. Although the ‘lost’ streams are mostly hidden from view, they are definitely still present, diverted below the surface of the city in culverts and pipes, many of which follow the course of the original streams.
‘Daylighted’ stream at Ontario Street and 1st Avenue
Chief Mathias Joe (1854 – 1910) was a great Squamish chief who was known as a powerful orator and renowned storyteller who fought hard to defend the legacy of his people and culture.
Like many of his stories, the tale of ‘The Two Sisters’ is deeply rooted in the local land of North Vancouver and the Capliano area and has an important message of reconciliation, sharing and peace. ‘The Two Sisters’ tells of how the two iconic peaks, now known as ‘The Lions’ came to stand over the what has become Vancouver.
Also known as Chief Joe and Capiliano Joe, this incredible man once travelled all the way to London, England to address King Edward directly about settling land claims in British Columbia. It was while he was in England that he met the Canadian writer Pauline Johnson. Johnson, of Mowhawk and English decent, spent her last years living in Vancouver and recording the amazing tales told by her friend Chief Mathias Joe.
In 1911 some of these stories, including ‘The Two Sisters’ were published in her book Legends of Vancouver. Johnson helped share these local legends with the English speaking public and now serve to remind Vancouver’s newer inhabitants of the area’s long and proud history.
According to the legend, Vancouver’s twin peaks, now commonly known as ‘The Lions’ were originally named Ch’ich’iyúy Elxwíkn’ (the Twin Sisters) long ago by a very powerful man known as the Great Tyee of the Caplianos. The Great Tyee ruled over the Capilano Canyon area and was a formidable warrior leader who prided himself on always winning battles against the neighbouring tribes. He had two beautiful daughters who were reaching the age at which it was customary to hold a great celebration in honour of their womanhood. The Great Tyee loved his daughters very much and upon their birthday he told them they could have anything that they wished for. The girls gave the offer careful consideration and decided to ask their father to invite the all the tribes that he was presently at war with to attend the upcoming celebration as a gift of peace. Because the Great Tyee was a man of his word he sent out an invitation across the land and sea to welcome all local tribes to a fabulous feast and joyous celebration. Vast quantities of salmon and olallieberries were served and there were many days and nights of happy singing and dancing.
After the celebration was over, hostile war songs ceased and a great and lasting brotherhood was sealed between the warring tribes. The daughters brought long-lasting peace to the area and the Great Tyee made them immortal by setting their memory forever in a high place in the mountains to watch over the Pacific Coast and the Caplilano Canyon.