Monday, 20 May 2019

SQUAMISH: MOTHER OF WIND

Squamish Valley / Mother of Wind
Eagles, bears and breathtakingly beautiful scenery await those who travel north of Vancouver, British Columbia to the town of Squamish.

Situated at the head of Howe Sound and surrounded by mountains, Squamish is cradled in natural beauty as only a West Coast community can be. Growing in fame as the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada, visitors enjoy the breathtaking scenery while hiking, climbing, kicking back or participating in the growing number of attractions to explore in this wilderness community.

Before Europeans came to the Squamish Valley, the area was inhabited by the Squohomish tribes. They lived in North Vancouver and came to the Squamish Valley to hunt and fish. The first contact they had with European outsiders was in 1792, when Captain George Vancouver came to Squamish to trade near the residential area of Brackendale.

During the 1850s gold miners came in search of gold and an easier gold route to the Interior. Settlers began arriving in the area in 1889, with the majority of them being farmers relocating to the Squamish Valley. The first school was built in 1893 and the first hotel opened in 1902, on the old dock in Squamish.

Squamish means Mother of the Wind in Coast Salish, an homage to the winds that rise from the north before noon and blow steadily until dusk, making Squamish a top wind surfing destination and host to the annual PRO-AM sailboard races.

Stawamus Chief, Squamish
The Stawamus Chief, the second largest free standing piece of granite in the world at a staggering 2,297 ft or over 700 metres. It has made Squamish one of the top rock climbing destinations in North America. The Chief was formed in the early Cretaceous, 100 million years ago, as a pool of molten magma cooled deep in the Earth's belly.

This majestic peak is said to have been one of the last areas of dry ground during a time of tremendous flooding in the Squamish area.

Many cultures have a flood myth in their oral history and the Squamish are no exception. They tell of a time when all the world save the highest peaks were submerged and only one of their nation survived. Warned in a vision, a warrior of the Squamish nation escaped to safety atop Mount Chuckigh (Mount Garibaldi) as the flood waters rose.

After the flood, a majestic eagle came to him with a gift of salmon and told him that the world below was again hospitable and ready for his return. He climbed down the mountain to find his village covered by a layer of silt. All his people had perished, but the gods gave him another gift, a second survivor of the flood, a beautiful woman who became his wife. The couple took the eagle as their chief totem and have honored it ever since. If you are in Squamish in on the first Sunday after New Year's day, you can honour the eagles by participating in the Annual Brackendale Winter Eagle Count.

If you happen down the Sea to Sky Highway anytime between May to October, stop by the BC Museum of Mining or Squamish Adventure Centre. Both offer wonderful educational programs and cultural insights of the area with additional programs being planned..

The Squamish Lil̓wat Cultural Centre and the Whistler Centre for Sustainably are launching the Indigenous Tourism Start up Program (ITSP) with the hope of igniting indigenous-based social enterprises from communities in the Fraser Valley all the way to Lillooet.