We have spent two nights at the government dock in Alert Bay on Cormorant Island. We found some Internet, some restaurant food, and some old and new totem poles. We visited the excellent ‘potlatch museum’ or U’mista Cultural Center which is filled with outstanding masks, coppers and clothing, all restored to these native peoples after the government had forbid potlatching and taken all their important cultural artifacts years ago. Here are some photos from the burial ground just east of ‘downtown’:
The next stop was the Finnish town of Sointula on Malcolm Island. This town’s name means “Place of Harmony” and was created by idealistic Finns espousing communal values in the 1910s. That didn’t last all that long, but the Co-Op store they started is still going strong! The current residents seem to be European-derived Canadians maintaining the carefully tended houses and gardens of their Finnish forebearers. They have their co-op, the Upper Crust Bakery, the Coho Joe Coffee Shop, a hamburger/fish and chips shack and little other commercial activity. Leslie tried out her injured miniscus on a very successful bike ride on logging roads to the north side of the island where the land faces the full brunt of the winter winds that wail here. The beach has many, many huge logs blown in and the beach consists of largish round rocks that are evidence of the high energy that is long this beach. We learned that orcas come here to rub their tummies on the round rocks. We had long heard of Robson Bight in Johnstone Strait as a rubbing beach, but here, apparently, there is another one.
On Malcolm Island we met Dave and Sheila Aas who were just returning from their cruise to Alaska. We shared meals and bike rides and much conversation with these fine friends.
Finally, we have put the boat to rest in Port McNeill Harbour Marina for a week and are now on the bus working our way along an 8 hour ride to the south end of Vancouver Island where Laura will be performing tomorrow evening at the Victoria Jazz Festival with her group of Neko Case and kd lang and their band as the headliners. This will be fun!! (Blog to follow soon on that….)