Spewhung (Turkey Head) – Another Songhees History Cairn in Oak Bay
After blogging about the three Songhees history cairns nearest to where I live, I thought I should go looking for others and there are more. This one is at Turkey Head, near the Oak Bay Marina on Beach Drive. I have updated the map and in future will describe the other one I located.
The monument commemorates Spewhung (Turkey Head) and provides Songhees names for other places visible from this location (provided there is no fog, which there was when I was there). Included on the plaque are names for Chatham Island (Stsnaang) and Discovery Island (Tlchess) which are 4 or 5 km offshore at the confluence of the Straight of Juan de Fuca and the Gulf of Georgia. It also gives the name Koweechella for Mary Tod Island (also known locally as Jimmy Chicken Island) which is a few hundred metres off shore and partially visible to the left in the picture below.
The inscription on top of the cairn reads:
Turkey Head was known by the indigenous peoples as Spewhung.
A large shell-midden along this shoreline indicates that this was an ancient village site to which first peoples brought many fish, bird, mammal and plant resources. Food was gathered from Chatham and Discovery Islands (Stsnaang and Tlchess) in the distance and from Jimmy Chicken – Mary Tod Island (Kohweechella island, “where there are many fish”), nearer shore.
Oak Bay Heritage, Artwork by Charles Elliott, Temoseng, BC 150 YEARS
One local history (pp. 5-6) tells us that Jimmy Chicken and his wife Jenny (as they were known to the settler community) lived on Mary Tod Island in the late 1800’s. Jimmy Chicken came to be a commonly used local name for this island (I remember it in use during the 1970’s). He was from Stsnaang (Chatham Island) and thus presumably a Songhees citizen.
Edit: I revisited without fog and have added the above picture that shows Stsnaang in the centre distance and Tlchess in the further distance more to the right. Kohweechella is in the middle of the far left, beyond the breakwater.