This wonderful canoe sculpture, Spirit of Haida Gwaii is by the late Haida artist Bill Reid and sits at the end of the figurative river in the Grand Hall of the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec. It represents a Haida canoe crammed with a bewildering variety of paddlers and passengers.
The white sculpture is the original plaster pattern used to cast the bronze sculpture at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. The prominent central figure wearing the big hat is a shaman, the Haida chief Kilstlaai. As a symbol of authority he holds a speaker's staff; on the top of the staff is Killer Whale.
The Spirit of Haida Gwaii features Raven and Eagle, the two principal Haida lineages that are coequal and represent two halves of a whole. The sculpture encompasses mythical creatures, animals, men and women, who together symbolize not just one culture but the entire family of living beings. The canoe is filled to overflowing with creatures who bite and claw one another as they doggedly paddle along.
The photo is a scan of a 35mm photo I took in 1999.