Whaler's Canoe at Victoria Quay
The Whaler's Canoe, which was carved from yellow and red cedar, is on show down by the Victoria Quay. Enjoy the exhibit during a walk along the boardwalk. The canoe is a replica of a historical whaler's canoe pursuing a grey whale. There were 8 men in the canoe with the steersman in the back to direct them. The hereditary chief, who stood at the front, has got the harpoon at the ready. It was fascinating how they killed the whale. Someone would dive in and sew up the mouth of the whale so it wouldn't sink. Then they'd tow it - quite a dangerous operation. They would also take the stomach of a seal, blow it up and use that to help float the whale. Great courage was needed to be a hunter in that environment.
The grey whale was considered a great gift from the Creators. Songs and prayer chants were created for the rituals and ceremonies. Special paddles were made from yew trees that would be flexible enough to give added thrust to the dugout canoe without breaking. They cruised at 8 knots in the swells and large waves off the west coast of Vancouver Island.
The food was eaten and traded with other groups and was also bartered to the first Europeans to arrive in the 18th Century. The entire whale was used. They would use the oil and the meat which was smoked, dried and preserved. Bones were made into tools and weapons. The blubber could be smoked or dried.
Legend has it that Thunderbird was out hunting and he had a whale in each talon. One whale was dropped on Mount Arrowsmith and then Thunderbird flew to Thunder Mountain where he ate the other whale. That explains why whale bones are found on both mountains.
Anthropologists say it must have been during a flood or a huge tidal wave.
Another explanation could come from how the whalers spent 9 to 12 months in preparation for the hunt. Going up into the mountains, into the caves and fasting. Preparing both mentally and physciallay for the upcoming hunt of the Grey Whale.