Great Bear Rainforest :: Photo Essay :: 19

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Thumbnail image. Photo © Tim Ennis Photography spacer Thumbnail image. Photo © Tim Ennis Photography
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Thumbnail image. Photo © Tim Ennis Photography spacer Thumbnail image. Photo © Tim Ennis Photography
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Thumbnail image. Photo © Tim Ennis Photography spacer Thumbnail image. Photo © Tim Ennis Photography
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Thumbnail image. Photo © Tim Ennis Photography spacer Thumbnail image. Photo © Tim Ennis Photography
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Thumbnail image. Photo © Tim Ennis Photography spacer Thumbnail image. Photo © Tim Ennis Photography
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Photo © Tim Ennis Photography
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Photo © Tim Ennis Photography
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Qaxsawa Village site circa 1899

Located at the head of River’s Inlet on BC’s central coast, the village of Qaxsawa was one of multiple village sites located throughout the traditional territory of the Wuikinuxw (Owekeeno) First Nation. Archaeological evidence indicates that the Wuikinuxw people have occupied these lands for at least 9,000 years.

The fate of River’s Inlet changed forever when in 1882, Robert Draney and Thomas Shotbolt became lost in the mist and sailed into the head of River’s Inlet instead of what is now Shotbolt Inlet, where they had intended to establish a salmon cannery. Deciding River’s Inlet was good enough, they built the River’s Inlet Cannery and began to exploit the lucrative sockeye runs of Owekeeno Lake. Eventually, over eleven canneries were constructed in River’s Inlet, packing nearly 200,000 cases of salmon each year.

The village of Qaxsawa was supposedly built by the Wuikinuxw right opposite the RIC cannery, and was connected to it by a boardwalk, so that Wuikinuxw people could more easily get to the cannery where they were employed in large numbers. The glut of exploitation of marine resources predictably resulted in a drastic collapse of salmon populations. Today only a trickle of sockeye and other salmon species return to River’s Inlet, when once it was in the top 3 most productive sockeye runs in BC.

With the collapse of fishing, people turned to logging. Although the watershed can only be reached by boat or plane, over 600 km of logging roads have been constructed in the area. After intense decades of logging, this too has now come to an end, with the last remaining logging company shutting down and pulling out only recently.

Depicted here circa 1899 the village of Qaxsawa once contained several houses, a Salvation Army day school, church, graveyard and totem poles. Pretty much everything is gone now, and the entire site has been reclaimed by a second growth forest, depicted in the next image.

This is a photo I took of a photocopied archival photo hanging on a wall in the Wuikinuxw village.

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19 of 22
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YES Story button spacer :: UPDATE
Historic Accord Protects B.C. Forests
First Nations are gaining more control over their traditional lands while considerations of sustainability are becoming central to forestry planning.

YES Archive button spacer :: SIGN OF LIFE
Rainforest Logging Shutdown in BC
The British Columbia logging company MacMillan Bloedel announced January 8, 1997, that it is shutting down its logging operations in the Clayoquot Sound rainforest, BC.



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