Friday, July 24, 2015

The Tsimshian’s of B.C.

Waters were glassy, calm for the entire trip back down Portland Canal.  After reaching the open sea we turned south through Chatham Sound where we encountered 20-25 knot winds with lumpy 4-5 foot chop.  We sought protection behind Finlayson Island along Tsimpsean Peninsula for part of the way along Chatham Sound.  
Venn Passage through Metlakatla Bay, B.C.
By 6:30pm we entered the protected waters of Duncan Bay, then Metlakatla Bay which serves as a short cut to Prince Rupert, known as Venn Passage.  Metlakatla Bay is the site of the small Tsimshian village of Metlakatla B.C. which should not to be confused with Metlakatla, Alaska (see previous blog post, dated 7/19).  Metlakatla is among the smallest of seven Tsimshian communities in British Columbia.  Metlakatla B.C. is where Father William Duncan established a utopian Christian community made up of Tsimshian Native Tribes, including 350 members from Lax Kwalaams (Port Simpson) located a few miles to the north where he first started his missionary work in 1857.  Today, Lax Kwalaams is the largest of the seven Tsimshian communities in British Columbia.  
Metlakatla, British Columbia
When Father Duncan omitted the Sacrament of Communion in his teachings and practice, he was expelled in 1881 from the Church of England’s “Church Missionary Society;” as a result, he created his own non-denominational “Independent Native Church.”  Shortly after Father Duncan moved his group to Metlakatla B.C., 500 people died of smallpox at Port/Fort Simpson, which he took as a sign from God.  By 1879, his community had grown to 1,100 people.  Then in 1887 with 800 plus Tsimshian’s, he departed on an epic canoe journey to found the new community of Metlakatla, Alaska.  The 100 or so remaining residents of “Old Metlakatla” were left in the hands of Anglican bishop William Ridley, Duncan’s nemesis.  Today, Metlakatla B.C. is still predominately Anglican and is quite dependent on nearby Prince Rupert for resources.  A small ferry runs between Metlakatla and Prince Rupert on a regular schedule.  
Prince Rupert seen from Tsimpsean Peninsula
After transiting Venn Passage, we rounded Tsimpsean Peninsula and anchored in Pillsbury Cove for the night, the lights of Prince Rupert could be seen across the Harbour three miles away.  Outside the village of Metlakatla, scenic Metlakatla Wilderness Trail winds through the forest and along the shores of Tsimpsean Peninsula.  The wilderness trail includes boardwalks and a suspension bridge but is unfortunately closed until further notice due to damage from severe weather conditions – perhaps from the gale-force winds we had this season in late April.

No comments:

Post a Comment