Careless whisper

August 21, 1998
The next morning another great breakfast (breakfeast?) table with fruit, juice, tea, coffee, homemade jam, cheese, cookies etc. At the table we met 2 young men from Austria, who were studying at UBC. Janet and Claus picked us up and brought us to the Anthropological Museum, approx. 2 kilometres from where we lived.

Museum of Anthropology
MOA's logo Totem poles The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) houses probably the world's finest examples of Northwest Coast First Nations art (native, aboriginal). The museum building, which itself has won a reward, is overlooking mountains and the sea. In some ways it reminded us of the Danish art museum, Louisianne, situated north of Copenhagen. MOA is built from concrete and glass.

In MOA's Great Hall are huge totem poles, feast dishes, and canoes of Haida people and other tribes from the coast area. In the Masterpiece Gallery are displayed carved works in silver, gold, stone, and wood. Outside the museum building are built two Haida Houses and ten totem poles.

The Koerner Ceramics Gallery holds a large collection of 15th to 19th century European ceramics. Furthermore the museum has an impressive collection af Japanese and Chinese ceramics. This collection was donated to the museum some years ago by a private collector. Through out the year special programs and exhibitions are presented. But focus seems to be on the history and culture of First Nations people in British Columbia.

Totem poles The Museum has the world's largest collection of works by the Haida artist, Bill Reid. The most impressive (to us anyway) was Reid's famous sculpture in yellow, laminated cedar, The Raven and the First Men. Furthermore there were two large sculptures in the Great Hall: Bear and Sea Wolf as well as a number of smaller works. In 1994, the Museum opened a permanent display of his smaller works in gold, silver, and wood. The day before we had seen "Lord of the Under Sea", a killer whale sculpture at the Vancouver Aquarium.

Bill Reid: 1920-1998
Born in Victoria, Bill Reid was always proud of his heritage and strongly attached to his maternal grandfather, a Haida silversmith and carver. While working in Toronto for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, he studied the Northwest Coast art displayed in the Royal Ontario Museum, and began to explore his cultural heritage. At the same time he completed a two-year course in jewellery-making. In 1958 he accepted an invitation to create part of a Haida village for UBC. These long houses now stand outside the Museum of Anthropology. The village was a turning point in Reid's artistic career. His work, which revived traditional Haida carving techniques and designs, went on to achieve international prominence. The Haida village was first of a series of large-scale works, for which he is best known.

Hundreds gathered at MOA on March 24 to remember Bill Reid, who died March 13 at the age of 78. The great Northwest Coast artist's ashes were brought into the museum in a canoe carried by 12 friends. More than 50 speakers paid their tribute to this great artist.

The Raven and The First Men
The Raven and The First Men The sculpture depicts an old Haida tale: After the great flood Raven gazed up and down the beach. There, half buried in the sand was a giant clamshell. As his shadow fell upon it, he heard a cry. Peering down into the opening between the halves of the shell, he saw it was full of tiny creatures, cowering in fear at his shadow.

It wasn't long before first one and then another of the little creatures emerged from the shell. Very strange creatures they were: two legged like Raven, but otherwise very different. They had no feathers. Nor fur. Their skin was pale, and they were naked except for the dark hair upon round, flat-featured heads. Instead of strong wings like raven, they had think stick-like arms that waved and fluttered constantly. They were the first humans.

Raven himself felt strange protective urges for these first people. He would again and again provide for these creatures he found in the clamshell. In time he would bring them the Sun, Moon and Stars; Fire; Salmon and Cedar, teach them the secrets of hunting, and the world. Raven would watch these weak creatures become both strong and loving, courageous and compassionate, able to fend for themselves and survive.

And their children were no timid shell-dwellers, but they continued to be children of the wild coast, of the stormy shores between the land and the sea. They challenged the strength of the stormy north Pacific wresting their livelihoods from the sea even as they made their homes on its shores. A lovely tale, not so far from our culture's tale of creation.

After visiting UBC we drove along the beach. There were many people on the beach, but not in the water. The beaches looked great. Nearby lies a nude beach, which has been mentioned even in the Danish press. This of coure has resulted in quite a lot af - dressed - people. If we went there to peep - of course not.

Dining at Earls
In the evening we dined at Earls - a restaurant on our way downtown. Earls is a chain with restaurants all over Canada. You can't make a reservation - but a call short before you go proved helpful. We started with a pitcher (6 beers) of Albino Rino Ale, which is the special beer of the house. A strong beer with a touch of sweetness. Most of us chose sirloin steak from Angus beef. This meat is so great, that it has been rationed among the restaurants. Service was extremely good, and the servant smiling and helpful. Over time we realized, that this was standard in Canada. The capucino after dinner was poor. Axording to Aase and Viggo, who likes the stuff, they only once enjoyed a decent cup of capucino. We decided, that we would come back at least once, before leaving Canada. But - as we shall learn - Fate had other plans for us.