Carving in Old Massett


On my recent visit to Haida Gwaii I visited with my friend Gwaliga in Old Massett. I have worked with him on archaeology projects (see for instance this post), and hope to again in the near future. Archaeology is not his only skill. Another is as a carver, one he has learned and continues to learn from his father 7idansuu Jim Hart an eminent Haida artist. They were very busy with carving when I visited. I was allowed to take pictures and to show them here as well – thank you so much for that, and for your hospitality on my visit.

There were several projects underway with the three apprentices (including Gwaliga) working on different pieces and Jim Hart working with them to see his vision realised. One project was a mortuary pole which has since been raised with due ceremony – it holds the ashes of a Hart family relative. Another is a major pole that will be raised in Vancouver to mark the reconciliation process around the residential school program in Canada. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has recently and rightfully found that schooling system a program of cultural genocide.

I can’t think of a better way to mark National Aboriginal Day (which is today in Canada) than to show a work of art underway as part of the reconciliation process which slowly gains momentum in Canada. I saw the drawing for the reconciliation pole and it is a stunning and deeply moving design.

I have previously marked National Aboriginal Day with a post about the poles and house remains at SGang Gwaay Llnagaay which is a World Heritage Site at the opposite end of Haida Gwaii from Old Massett. That post is worth looking at to see how such works of art come to look over a century and a half – click on this link to get to that post.  A more recent set of poles by the master carvers of Haida Gwaii, including Jim Hart, can be found in these posts.


for the top of the reconciliation pole



To open a large view of any image in the gallery below, click on it and navigate with the arrows to the others


 I am on the road for a few days, so if I am slow in responding to comments, that is why.


Canon 5Dii, Canon 16-35mm/f2.8 lens, various settings.




4 thoughts on “Carving in Old Massett

    • Thanks so much Toad! It was fun to photograph these guys at work, and to hang out for a while too. I was just up there again working with one of these fellows in the field – we had a great time.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hello ehpem, you made us an awesome photographic essay. The photography is beautiful and the black and white shot is my favorite as a perfect action photo. Also great timing as it fits with today’s national aboriginal day.


    • Thank you Joseph. I am glad you enjoyed this post – it was so much fun to hang out and watch the work in action and get a sense of how such work is done. And I was fed a fantastic fish soup afterwards.

      Liked by 1 person

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