by Art Maw
Totem Poles tell a story about the tribe, family or a person and our pole is exactly that, a story of events in our lives.
My wife Lawrie and I built the pole together; she did a lot of the painting as she has a much steadier hand, and I did the carving. The pole was built at our cottage and is installed on the deck where it can be appreciated all the time, rather than at the entrance to the cottage when it would only be seen coming in.
The top of the pole is a Thunderbird that in native lore is a symbol of power and luck and is quite often found on native poles. Our Thunderbird is significant to us as I was attached to 426 squadron in the Canadian Air Force and the squadron emblem is a Thunderbird. Lawrie and I built a full size costume of the Thunderbird for the squadron in the 70s that to this day stands in a case in the squadron coffee room.
Our Thunderbird has many symbols of our life painted on the wing and body. The front of the wing has 53 gold dots for 53 years of marriage. The back of the body has two interlocking symbols of a man and a women representing our two sons and their wives.
The chevron on the front represents the fact that I was a Sergeant at the time.
The back of the wing has two female symbols and four male symbols for our six grandchildren and one of the female symbols has an interlocking male symbol for her husband.
The fish in the talons is representative of all the fish caught by the grandchildren over the years.
The wood pecker is a reminder of the one who harassed us for a couple of weeks one year by hammering on the metal chimney flashing at five in the morning.
Throwing firewood and spraying with the hose did little to deter the little terror.
Next is a representation of a beaver that plagued us for many years building nests in our boathouse. One time he managed to bring in a log about eight inches in diameter and sixteen feet long, I had to open the boat doors to float it out.
The eyes are pennies to commemorate the end of their use in 2013.
The airman commemorates my thirty years in the Royal Canadian Air Force.
The screwdriver is one I had in the Air Force and lost in the lake many years ago.
Luckily my grandson Zacharie found it while snorkeling a couple of years ago. The shoulder flashes were used prior to 1965 and then changed to flashes with just Canada on them.
The heron on the bottom of the pole is our favorite bird and a symbol of prosperity.
The male symbol is for our first great grandson Ethan and is on the bottom with lots of space around him so we can add more as they arrive without taking the pole down.
Building The Pole
Raising The Pole
Our son Andrew, Grandson Liam and daughter in-law Brigitte helped put the pole in place.
We had to carry it through the cottage to get it on the deck without breaking it.
Out Totem Pole
Copyright Art Maw
All photos used with permission