Totem Interpretive Project Completion Celebration

The “City of Totems” has been a long term project that has developed the world’s largest outdoor collection of publically displayed totem poles. The project began in 1985 and was designed to attract visitors to Duncan. It has involved the enthusiasm and support of many individuals and organizations, and has cultivated cross-cultural appreciation and cooperation.

Through this project the City was able to obtain oral histories from the carvers and their families and to develop dedicated signage for the totem pole collection. The oral histories collected by Jane Mertz during this project have created access to the previously-untold stories of the artists and their families and provided the opportunity to acknowledge the artist’s voice in the stories of the poles they carved. The carvers’ cultural knowledge is now preserved and all of the information gathered during the project is housed in the Cowichan Valley Museum and Archives for future visitors and scholars.

The City is very proud of the work done on this project and the enhanced interactive experience it provides both visitors and locals who explore the “City of Totems”. Totem Committee Chair Councillor Michelle Staples would like to thank the dedicated Committee and everyone else who played a part in bringing this project to fruition and all of the carvers and their families and friends for the stories they have shared. “It has been such a great honour for the stories of the poles to be brought to life by the artists and families who they came from. I love seeing people milling about the streets of Duncan looking at the poles and reading the beautiful signage created for this project”, stated Councillor Staples.

Thanks to financial assistance from Heritage Canada for 50% of the project costs, the City of Duncan’s Totem Committee was able to fulfill a long-held vision to provide interpretation of the City’s world-class collection.

We invite you to celebrate the preservation of the history of the totems for future generations on Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. in Charles Hoey Park.



Councillor Michelle Staples, Chair Tourism Totem Sub-Committee Phone: 250-709-7972