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Go Haida Gwaii


Rose Spit - where the Hecate Strait meets Dixon Entrance - Photo: Owen Perry

The rainforest experience - moss carpeted paths, a lingering scent of fresh cedar and the sounds of silence - Photo: Owen Perry

Step into another world as you tour ancient Haida village sites in Gwaii Haanas - Photo: Owen Perry


A Totem Pole Tour in Old Massett

Guy Kimola / Haida Gwaii Photos

I was inspired after taking a self-guided Old Massett totem pole tour yesterday, and found myself lying awake for much of the night, revisiting the powerful images of mythical creatures portrayed on the poles. I am grateful to Crystal Robinson and Sandra Dan of Old Massett, who provided information and suggestions to enhance my experience.

Click on the image for a printable pdf of the 'Totem Pole Tour'

Old Massett is located at the site of three traditional Haida villages and features the Islands’ largest collection of contemporary totem poles (17). The carvers and their teams of apprentices have left an amazing legacy in the form of these monumental works.

We begin our tour at the Northern Haida Gwaii Hospital site - approximately mid-way on the 2 km stretch of road linking Masset to Old Masset.  Here we find Christian White’s Medicine Story Team Totem which was raised in 2009 to commemorate the opening of the new hospital and the strengthening of partnerships between the communities of Old Massett, Masset and Port Clements.

Guy Kimola / Haida Gwaii Photos

This site is also the location of Cooper Wilson’s Raven Entrance Pole and Jordan Seward’s Eagle Entrance Pole.

Guy Kimola / Haida Gwaii Photos

The village is just few minutes further north from the hospital site. Raven (along the waterfront) and Eagle Roads parallel each other throughout the village, joining together at the far north end. Two more poles carved by Christian White can be found near the entrance of the village along Raven Road. The Geoffrey White Memorial Totem and the Chief Edenshaw House Totem are located at the Tluu Xaada Naay Longhouse.

Guy Kimola / Haida Gwaii Photos

A visit to Christian’s longhouse is ‘a must’. The longhouse features Haida art, Christian’s carved canoes and is the home of the Tluu Xaada Naay Dance Group. A few blocks further north, next to the Gwaii Trust Society sign, we arrive at the ‘Ernie Collison Memorial’ Totem carved by Jim Hart and raised in 2003.  

Paul White’s Amanda Edgards Memorial Totem follows shortly after. At the very end of Raven Road, Jim Hart’s Chief Edenshaw Memorial Totem is located off the road, on private property. You will need to walk down the driveway to view the pole. The 55-foot pole was raised in 1998 to mark his assuming the chieftainship of the Sdast'aas Eagles.  The waterfront location and imagery on the pole was spectacular!

Guy Kimola / Haida Gwaii Photos

Raven Road and Eagle Road meet at the intersection by Jim Hart’s residence and we begin making our way back along Eagle Road, soon arriving at several poles located within one block of eachother. Reg Davidson’s Sharkhouse Totem, raised in 1986, fronts ‘Sarah’s Haida Arts and Jewelry’ store.  This pole was the first pole to be raised for a chief’s house on Haida Gwaii, in almost a century.

Guy Kimola / Haida Gwaii Photos

You’ll want to make a stop at this very popular gift store featuring a great selection of local art, jewelry, books on the Haida culture and clothing. The gift store is also a wealth of information on the Haida culture.

 Across the road at the ballpark, Lawrence Bell’s Yan Raven and Eagle Totems can be found. These poles were raised in 1973.

The 40-foot St John’s Church Totem was carved by Robert Davidson and raised in 1969. At the time, no poles remained in the village and the St John’s Church Totem was the first pole to be raised since 1871.


Guy Kimola / Haida Gwaii Photos

Vernon White’s Family Centre Totem is located just a few minutes south of the church followed by the Chief Matthew’s Pole, (Reg Davidson) at the Chief Matthews Elementary School.

Next door, at the Old Massett Village Council building, visitors are greeted by  the Raven House Totem (Donnie Edenshaw) and the Eagle House Totem (Jaalen Edenshaw) as well as the Health Centre Totem  carved by Tim Boyko.

Guy Kimola / Haida Gwaii Photos

Whether you take a self-guided tour or the more informative and guided tour provided by Haida Gwaii Discovery Tours, this is an experience you’ll want to include on your Haida Gwaii itinerary.

The Old Massett Village Council administration confirmed that it is acceptable for visitors to take photos of the totem poles for personal use. Permission will need to be obtained for purposes aside from this (250-626-3337). Visitors are asked to show respect when viewing the poles on private property.

Guy Kimola / Haida Gwaii Photos


Contact Us

Queen Charlotte Visitor Centre

email: | telephone: 250-559-8316

Sandspit Visitor Centre

email: | telephone: 250.637.5362

Port Clements Visitor Centre

email: | telephone: 250-557-4576

Masset Visitor Centre

email: | telephone: 250-626-3982

Haida Gwaii Tourism

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