Jasper National Park of Canada

Jasper Totem Pole Project

A New Legacy... for Jasper

For 94 years, a magnificent Haida totem pole stood proudly next to Jasper’s railway. It was an important Jasper landmark and a colourful reminder of the community’s early railway history. Over the years, weather and other elements damaged the pole and it became unstable. Parks Canada conservation specialists attempted to save it but the massive wooden carving was beyond repair. It became a public safety hazard and the beautiful totem was taken down on April 3, 2009. On June 21st, 2010, the famous
Jasper Raven Totem Pole was repatriated back to Haida Gwaii. This unique and historic landmark will never be forgotten and its absence in the Jasper landscape is felt by many.


Hello New Totem Pole

full carving in progress 
The new totem pole being carved in Old Massett, Haida Gwaii. 
© Parks Canada

In September of 2009 the Minister of the Environment promised the community that the Jasper Raven Totem Pole would be replaced by a new carving recognizing that Haida totem poles are “an important symbol of Canadian art”.Parks Canada has since commissioned a new totem pole for Jasper which was carved in Haida Gwaii.

The Two Brothers Totem Pole with its new story was raised on July 16, 2011 and marks the beginning of a new legacy for Jasper.


Information Update

  • In April of 2010 Parks Canada commissioned the carving of a new totem pole.
  • June 21st, 2010 the Jasper RavenTotem Pole was repatriated back to Haida Gwaii.
  • A totem pole raising ceremony took place in Jasper on July 16, 2011 as part of local Parks Day celebrations.


Choosing the carver

Jaalen and Gwaai Edenshaw; the head carvers Jaalen and Gwaai Edenshaw carving the new totem pole for Jasper. © Parks Canada

Ten Haida carvers submitted their totem pole designs for the Parks Canada commission. In April of 2010 the Old Massett Village Council with Jasper National Parks recommendation selected Jaalen and Gwaai Edenshaw as the head carvers of the new totem pole for Jasper. Totem poles are carved for many reasons: some are heraldic and depict the crests of a lineage, others are mortuary or memorial poles, still others are simply story poles. In more recent times Haida poles have been created purely for the art of it. The new pole coming to Jasper is a story pole and will contain figures that tell a story.


The Story of the Two Brothers

The story tells of two Haida brothers who out of curiosity, traveled from Haida Gwaii, across the mainland to the Rocky Mountains. After travelling for some time one of the brothers found a spot that spoke to him. He remained in this area while his brother returned home to Haida Gwaii. A long time passed and the man who had returned home began missing his brother too much. He decided to go back and look for his brother. He followed the same route they had taken.

Two Brothers totem pole in progress Two Brothers Totem Pole in progress. © Parks Canada

At the place where the two had parted ways he saw a house. He went up to the door and called out in Haida: “Naa hl gwaa nangis?” (“Is anybody inside?”). A woman’s voice from inside the house called back: “Aangaa. Kaajiihlaa”(“Yes. Come in.”). When he entered the house he found that the girl was his brother’s daughter. His brother had passed on some years before but had passed his ways on to his daughter.

The story suggests a connection between the Haida and the Indigenous peoples from that area. It should be noted that it does not indicate Haida ownership or lineage. Haida Lineage is passed on through the mother’s side, therefore the daughter would not have inherited any lineage through her father.


Two Brothers Totem Pole Imagery

Many of the animals native to Jasper are found among Haida crests, and have been chosen for the new totem pole including the grizzly bear, dragonfly, mountain goat and raven.

Drawing of the Two Brothers Totem Pole Drawing of the Two Brothers Totem Pole.   © Parks Canada





On the very top is a brother. He sits looking out over this land.




The next figure is the raven, iconic as ambassador for the Haida.
Raven 




The raven’s tail feathers hold the face of the young daughter.





Mountain Goat 
The next figure is the mountain goat, fundamentally
representative of the Rocky Mountains.

 
 





Bear 


One of the brothers rests between its knees.

 

 

Dragonfly 

The bottom figure is a grizzly bear holding a dragonfly it its hands.