So much for the weekly update plan. But it has been worth the delay, as I spent the last week on the road (mostly) in the Chilcotin with my dad and brother, and have come back inspired to blog about all sorts of interesting things. And en route we paid a visit to the recently repatriated Canoe Creek petroglyph boulder at its new location, and I have pics to share! (“New location” in the sense of having recently been placed at that particular place along the Fraser- a little ways from its original spot. At a regional scale it may be considered to be returned to its original home.) The boulder now sits at the entrance to the Churn Creek Protected Area, and it is well worth the visit. The setting is quite gorgeous, in the scrubland (technically bunchgrass) with the banded bluffs of the Fraser River close by. The interpretive kiosk is quite close by (a handy landmark).
The boulder itself must be seen to be believed. I had visited a few times at the Vancouver Museum, but I had never realized how densely carved is. This thing is seriously packed with petroglyphs. The timing for our visit was somewhat suboptimal in regards to making out a lot of the images, as a few clouds managed to flatten out the light substantially. Fortunately I had a flash in my camera bag, and with the help of my “voice-activated lightstand” (aka. dad) managed to paint some sidelighting across the face of the rock, making the images stand out slightly more. Ideally it would be nice to photograph it with a flash at night, and maybe make a set of PTM images. How cool would that be? (Very.)
This part of BC doesn’t seem to see a lot of tourist action, which may be something of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, outside enthusiasm (or more precisely a colonial desire to acquire and own culturally significant native objects) already resulted in the boulder being purloined back in 1926. Setting it in Churn Creek, close to 100km from the nearest stoplight, may help keep it from being “loved to death”. It is not really “on the way” to anywhere, so rowdy teens with spray paint or boozed up cowboys with guns are less likely to alter the boulder than if it were placed somewhere closer to a town. Similarly, hordes of children won’t be climbing all over it while they wait for some sort of activity to start. If you’re at this spot, you probably came out of your way for the boulder.
On the other hand, it is a spectacular boulder, with an extremely rich array of images. It is well worth the visit, and the drive there is delightful as well. I would love to see Canoe Creek (Stswecem’c Xgat’tem) get a cultural centre/museum going out there too. I’d be back in a flash to check that out. Also, the repatriation of this boulder seems to set a very fine precedent of cooperation between First Nations originating communities and BC museums/institutions. Hopefully we will see more stories like this in the future.