Grand Hall tour

Tsimshian House

The area of the Grand Hall exhibition occupied by the Tsimshian house represents four different peoples. The coastal waterways opposite to and north of the Queen Charlotte Islands, the waterways just north of Haisla territory and the Nass and Skeena river valleys, and the adjacent lands constitute a huge region which is home to those four peoples: the Nisga'a of the Nass River and the adjacent coast; the Gitksan of the upper Skeena River and its tributaries; the Coast Tsimshian of Port Simpson and the coastal waterways to the south, including the initial portion of the Skeena River; and the Southern Tsimshian.

CMC T2004-003 (detail)
The Tsimshian house represents a style of house which stood in Tsimshian villages in the mid-1800s. In construction, it is similar to Haida houses, with a structure of massive cedar posts and beams and removable vertical wall boards, set into grooved timbers top and bottom. The houses of high-ranking people among both the Tsimshian and Haida had central fire pits, with broad steps leading down from the main floor. The steps were wide enough to accommodate meal preparation and other domestic activities.

The painting on the front of the house is a reconstruction of a screen used in the Coast Tsimshian village of Port Simpson in the mid-1800s. The central figure represents a bear, and the flanking figures represent wolves.

You may enter the house.

The poles (from left to right) are:

  • Bear's Den Pole. This pole stood in the Nass village of Gwunahaw. It was carved by Weeshaiks, a member of the Fireweed phratry, circa 1900. The pole was erected by 'Arhtimenazek, and the figures are related to the history of his lineage. The small animal in the round hole is Bear Cub.
  • White Squirrel. A legendary war-like chief of the Squirrels, the White Squirrel is the crest of a family from the Nass River village of Gitlakdamiks. The squirrel was carved during the 1870s by 'Niesyawk, head of a Wolf lineage in Gitlakdamiks. The pole and box on which it sits in the Grand Hall were newly made for the exhibit.
  • Kwahsuh Pole. This pole represents Li'ins, chief of a leading Nisga'a Wolf lineage. It was erected around 1870 by Kwahsuh, head chief of a Wolf phratry at the Nass River village of Angidah. The boxes, which are empty, commemorate other Wolf-lineage chiefs.