"Kwakiutl Canoes"
Original oil on canvas 24" x 30" by Bill Holm © 1959
Collection of Donn and Melinda Charnley

The painting depicts a Kwakwaka'wakw (Kwakiutl) canoe travelling down Kingcome Inlet near the mouth of Wakemari Sound sometime in the mid-nineteenth century. Another canoe is seen some distance away. The Sisiutl, a legendary serpent-like creature, is painted on the near canoe. The bowman wears a white Hudson's Bay Company blanket around his waist, but some of the crewmen are wearing cedar bark robes, suggesting that it is early in the trade period.

The picture was made to accompany an article on my making a 24-foot canoe in 1958, following a detailed account of canoe-making recorded fifty years earlier by George Hunt and published by Franz Boas. The article, with accompanying photographs, was published in The Beaver (summer 1961), the Hudson's Bay Company magazine, and the painting was used as the cover.

The Beaver: Magazine of the North. Summer, 1961, cover.
The Canoe. 1983, full page colour.
Alaskafest. May 1984, cover of Alaska Airlines magazine.

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