World’s Tallest Totem Pole
The Legend of the Totem
Carved by Mungo Martin • David Martin • Henry Hunt
Dedicated July 2, 1956
Percy B. Scurrah, Mayor of Victoria
Hon. Ray Williston, Minister of Education
Stuart Keate, Sponsor
Raised by public subscription through the Victoria Daily Times
The Legend of the Totem
“Memento of the Nation’s infancy, symbol of a proud race. Monument to rare native art. Proof of a united community interest and the purest form of Canadiana.”
(Victoria Daily Times)
The ancestral figures on the world’s tallest totem pole are associated with the Gee-eksem clan of the Kwa-Kiutl tribe of coast Indians from Fort Rupert, near Port Hardy, British Columbia. Bottom figure is Gee-eksem, legendary “First Man” of the tribe, said to have been created at Gold Beach on the north end of Vancouver Island.
Gee-eksem one day saw a strange sight. A totem pole gradually rose out of the beach. On the pole were all the animals now carved on the pole, each making its own peculiar cry. The bottom figure was that of a man who said to him, “These be you crests to be displayed by you and your descendants.” The pole then disappeared. At no time during the long history of the tribe have all the figures been displayed on one pole until this one was carved by chief Mungo Martin and his
Next above Gee-eksem on the pole is Hohoq the cannibal bird. Next the killer whale, the Kle-akin the sea lion with the brown bear. Kwikw the eagle, the grey colored sea otter with a halibut in his mouth. Gwoy-im the whale with a man on his back, the mouth being the whale’s blow-hole with a man’s face at the tail, both added decorations.
Then comes T-sow the beaver with two prominent front teeth. Lak-tote-pis, the servant-man of Gee-eksem, then Miquat the seal with the spotted back, Uli-gun the black wolf, and Hosagami Gee-eksem’s potlatch record-keeper.
The two men at the top are “First Men” of other clans of the tribe, La-lox-undyu, who was born a Kolus, a mythical bird which was covered with down and never grew feathers, and Sinklah-ee who was first created as Klesela, the sun.
The cedar pole was carved with native adze and knife, taking six months from the time it was felled at Muir Creek, until erection in 1959.
Spelling is phonetic, to give the approximate pronunciation.
Erected 1956 by Victoria Daily Times.
Location. 48° 24.554′ N, 123° 21.652′ W. Marker is in Victoria, British Columbia, in Capital Regional District. Marker is on Camas Circle. Touch for map. This marker is located on a footpath off
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. British Columbia Indians World Wars Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Miss Marilyn Bell (about 210 meters away, measured in a direct line); Signs of Lekwungen (approx. 0.3 kilometers away); Beacon Hill Park (approx. 0.3 kilometers away); Finlayson Point (approx. 0.3 kilometers away); Giants Rooted Among Us (approx. 0.4 kilometers away); Beacon Hill (approx. 0.4 kilometers away); Twinning of Morioka, Japan and Victoria (approx. 0.4 kilometers away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Victoria.
Additional keywords. totem
Categories. • Native Americans •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on November 6, 2011, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 875 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on November 6, 2011, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. 4, 5, 6. submitted on June 1, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.