What non-native visitors experience as raw and magnificent rainforest wilderness also embodies an often unseen historical dimension of a coast extensively populated by indigenous villages, seasonal fishing,  gathering, burial and other sacred sites. These have been dispossessed through the process of colonization aimed at extracting resources from the land through the systemic  de-indigenization of the land. Through the introduction of the small pox epidemic,  the reservation system, residential schools, banning of the potlatch and the creation of a State-imposed system of governance that supplanted the hereditary chiefs.

Carmanah And Her Hereditary Guardians: A narrative account by HIS-TAH-TOO-QUAH (1992)

In July 1984 while camping with my parents Frank and Susan Knighton, my father told my wife Monique and I the story of how we, the hereditary guardians of Carmanah, came not only to own and use this place but to occupy it as the centre of our homeland.

In years gone by there was a Black Face Dance held at Tattoosh Island.  This was the permanent home of out very very long ago ancestors.  Tattoosh Island is just off Cape Flattery, the northernmost point of the Olympic Peninsula in what is known as Washington State, directly across the Straight of Juan de Fuca from Carmanah on the southwest coast of what is now known as Vancouver Island.  In those very ancient times Carmanah and other points of both sides of the waters were owned by our family and used in the cyclic pattern of the life of out people

To continue reading, please click here to view the full article.

Excerpts from Between Ports Alberni and Renfrew: Notes on West Coast Peoples by E. Y. Arima and Denis St Clair(1991)

Southeastern West Coast Place Names:


The West Coast of Vancouver Island is often thought to be oriented north and south, at least by those at a distance, but generally lies more northwest and southeast, and in the Ditidaht-Pacheedaht sector is closer to an east-west direction than north-south.  A number of place names have been recorded for the southeastern part of the West Coast from Race Rocks near Victoria to Cape Beale, the immediate informants being Charles Jones (CJ) backed by his wife Ida (IJ), Jasper Peters (JP), Joshua Edgar (JE), Bernice Touchie (BT) and John Thomas (JT) who also checked renderings.

To continue reading, please click here to view the full Southeastern West Coast Place Names pdf.

Map below adapted by FoCW with permission from Between Ports….  and with thanks to Peter and Monique Knighton.


Further Reading:

Between Ports Renfrew and Alberni. Notes on West Coast Peoples. Eugene Arima, et al

The Whaling People of the West Coast of Vancouver Island and Cape Flattery;     By Eugene Arima and Alan Hoover, Royal BC Museum, 2011.

There’s a Landing Today; By R.E.Wells, Sono Nis Press, 1988. (Early settler history from along the West Coast Trail).

Terror of the Coast; Land alienation and colonial war on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, 1849-1863. By Chris Arnett.

To Share Not Surrender. Indigenous and settler visions of treaty making in the colonies of Vancouver Island and BC.  By Chris Cook, Neil Vallance etal.

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