The building of a Haida Monumental Canoe – Lootas
Mark has been involved in various projects and in relation to Lootas, he assisted Haida artists, Billy Bellis, Garner Moody, and Guujaaw from Skidegate. The Haida traditional canoe project was conceived by Bill Reid, and he directed the carving, steaming open the canoe with hot rocks according to Haida histories.
The 50 foot Lootas was created for Expo 86, Vancouver, British Columbia. The canoe was crafted with assistants from Skidegate, in Haida Gwaii, trained with new skills as a project like this has not been attempted in many years.
At the closing of Expo in Vancouver, the Haida warriors paddled the Lootas back home to Skidegate. The journey took a week to complete, strictly on Haida power. They had escorts travelling with them to be sure of their safety and to take care of their well being.
Other such journeys of the Lootas, but on a much larger scale, was to go to Paris in 1989 to paddle the Seine. This was a major project as you can imagine to transport the 50 foot canoe overseas.
During the construction of the canoe, Mark provided assistance with steaming to shape the canoe, and helped with finishing the seats, gunnels, a process which took well over a month. Mark built a cradle to move the monumental canoe to Expo, and that cradle was lifted onto a truck for transport. The results of building a traditional canoe turned out quite well considering there was no real directions on how to proceed with the project. It turned out beautiful.
Image of Bill Reid being greeting by Chiefs and onlookers.
Image credit: CBC Radio Canada