Postcards from the Totems of Kitwanga, Canada

Kitwanga, near the Hazeltons, in British Columbia, Canada, may not be actually described as nowhere, but the beauty of travelling is that often the unexpected is found some miles from anywhere. Driving is an especially great way to make discoveries, and one reason roadtrips are so popular, there are usually dozens of surprises found right at the roadside.

The conundrum for any travelling photographer is how to balance the many photogenic opportunities, with actually arriving at the intended destination in a sensible time. It’s the main reason I’m often late for appointments …… apologies to those I’ve left waiting.

The totem near St Paul's Anglican Church near Kitwanga in British Columbia, Canada on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-45 kitwanga totem

A roadside surprise

“Totems of Kitwanga”

Leaving the small town of Terrace, this Anglican church, and it’s totem sits just off the main road near the Meziadin Junction; they’re too impressive to dismiss, they just scream “photograph me!” Therefore, despite a tight schedule, a detour needed including, and several minutes spent grabbing a few images from several angles. A deep blue sky, marbled with streaky clouds added some interest, giving a dramatic effect to the images.

Kitwanga (Gitwangak)  is a village of the Gitxsan Nation (people of the place of rabbits), one of a number of communities, within the Nation territory. The Gitxsan converted to Christianity, encouraged by British settlers, and villagers built St Paul’s Anglican Church in 1893.

The Gitxsan have lived in North West British Columbia for many thousands of years, and have a long tradition of carving, including totems. They are managing to retain this craft, and there are several highly skilled carvers still producing beautiful carvings. A visit to the nearby reconstructed Ksan Historical Village and Museum provides an opportunity to witness some of the talented artists creations, see them working, and make a purchase.

St Paul's Anglican Church in the Hazeltons, North Western British Columbia, Canada. Built by the Gitxsan Nation from the village of Kitwanga on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-54 stpauls_kitwanga

St Paul’s Anglican Church

“National Historic Site of Canada”

Close to this site there is a long line of tall totems decorating the side the road within the town. Unfortunately my schedule made a visit to the National Historic Site of Canada impossible. Fortunately, the church, and companion totem, captured my imagination, and along with a spectacular sky provided opportunities to capture some images which seem to typify the BC landscape, and First Peoples cultural history.

Finding the unexpected is one of the many pleasures of travelling, discovering cultural, wildlife, landscape or architectural surprises are a major part of the appeal. Exploring means being curious, spontaneous, taking detours, staying slightly too long, and being late for appointments is an occupational hazard. It’s usually well worth the effort, I only hope my future appointments are as understanding as those in the past.

St Paul's Anglican Church and it's totem in the Hazeltons, on the road from Terrace, and Smithers near Meziadin Junction, in North Western British Columbia, Canada. Built by the Gitxsan Nation from the village of Kitwanga on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-47 stpauls_kitwanga

Church and totem

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