New totem raised in Jasper, in place of nearly century-old landmark
Published Saturday, July 16, 2011 3:49PM MDT
The town of Jasper has been without one of its most well-known landmarks after it was found to be unstable. Now a new totem pole stands in its place.
The Jasper Raven Totem Pole was acquired by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway when it opened a rail line across the mountains to Prince Rupert, British Columbia in 1914.
It was one of a set attained to be erected at the Prince Rupert and Jasper railway stations.
The Raven totem pole was built by a master carver in the Queen Charlotte Islands in the 1870s or 1880s.
Parks Canada tried to save the original totem pole, but it was not salvageable.
It had become a public safety hazard, and was taken down on April 3, 2009. It was repatriated to Haida Gwaii, a group of islands off the coast of northwest mainland British Columbia, on June 21, 2010.
Ten Haida carvers submitted designs for a new Jasper totem pole, and in April 2010 Jaalen and Gwaai Edenshaw were chosen as head carvers of the new piece.
Much of the carving took place in Old Massett, Haida Gwaii, and the carvers completed the new totem pole as part of a "Carver in Residence" event throughout the spring of 2011.
The new totem pole's design is based on Haida folklore, and tells the story of two brothers who decide to travel from Haida Gwaii to the Rocky Mountains, become separated – and when one looks for the other years later he finds his brother's daughter.
The brothers and the daughter are all pictured in the new totem pole, along with other creatures representing many different themes.
A raven is shown, representing the Haida, a mountain goat represents the Rocky Mountains – and a grizzly bear sits at the bottom, holding a dragonfly.
The artists behind the new design have said they drew some of their inspiration for the new, from the old.
"We were able to study the old pole," Carver Gwaai Edenshaw. "[We used] some of the carving techniques of the old Jasper pole and use it on this one."