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SKEDANS haida gwaii

The Haida village known as Skedans, or to be correct, in Haida would be K’uuna Llnagaay, is a National Historic Site of Canada and is located within the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve as part of remote Archipelago of Islands called Haida Gwaii (translation – People of Haida – in Haida language) formerly known as Queen Charlotte Islands.

skendans best

Moss covers the remains of a totem pole with view to bay and Cumshewa Inlet behind.  My favourite photo of the trip.

Visiting the remains of the Haida Village site was breathtaking – a serene, peaceful and beautiful place that I feel very lucky to have seen with my friend.

skedans bay

Formerly a village with 26 – 30 longhouses, it has been abandoned for over a century, after the Haida people suffered devastating loss of life with the introduction of disease from arriving Europeans in the 1880s.

Only a handful of carved poles remain standing of the original 50 carved pieces of monument (carved pieces include mortuary poles and memorial poles).  As this is a place of burial – walkways were defined by the seashells.  Haida Watchmen live on the island during the summer as guides and protectors. Two groups were on the Island at the same time, but staggered so we arrived not long before the other group left.

skedans totem 5

One totem had fluting carved in (below) which is not traditional – an likely means that someone saw these details in Victoria which is a very long way to paddle…


you see remains of carved detail down the side below


Famously painted in 1912 by Canadian Artist Emily Carr, who was a rare woman adventurer for the era (see the house Emily Carr lived in growing up in Victoria).  Getting to Skedans – even in modern day – is a trek – we took a 2 hour flight from Vancouver to Sandspit, and went with Moresby Explorers on a 1 day trip that includes a bumpy ride on a logging road for an hour before you even get in the Zodiac.  Emily Carr did not have these conveniences.  Alternatively we could have done a 16 hour drive from Vancouver to Prince Rupert and then taken an eight hour ferry ride.


Remains of a long house – that center log would have been part of the roof structure as shown above as well as the below – there were 2 traditional styles of building.  Below is a larger one with the terraced style for hosting larger gatherings inside.


View of the cove on Louise Island – this protected beach was a desirable location as we saw several village sites similarly situated  elsewhere.  That is our zodiac in the bay – it is not permitted on the beach – only comes in to pick up and drop off.



skedans emily carr

A photo of Skedans – late 1800s.

There are several villages within Gwaii Haanas to visit, more famously is Ninstints or Sgang Gwaay – which is a more complete village and is a UNESCO World Heritage site – it is significantly farther away and more difficult to get to – it is part of a four day zodiac  tour that includes staying in remote tent camps – a bit too adventurous for us.  Float Plane ride thousands of dollars would be the way to go 🙂

My name is Sue Womersley – design consultant from White Rock BC sharing my adventures in decorating and travels.



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