Thanks to a generous donation by the Committee of 33, conservators Corine Landrieu and Tiffany Hedrick restored the Story of North Island totem pole in July. The totem pole, located on the Montlake Cut near the University of Washington, was carved by Haida Chief John Dewey Wallace in Waterfall, Alaska in 1937.
The pole was originally carved for the Waterfall Cannery, one of the most productive salmon canneries of the early 1900s. The totem pole was raised near the cannery’s general store, where it stood for many decades until its mysterious disappearance. It resurfaced in Seattle in two pieces, where it was found and restored by the Committee of 33, who then donated the pole to the city of Seattle for permanent installation at its current site.
Restoration of totem poles involves many treatment procedures including the removal of biological growth, invasive pest eradication, consolidation of deteriorated wood, restructuring of areas of loss caused from woodpeckers and other invasive species, inpainting, paint consolidation and the application of suitable surface coatings. Landrieu, and Hedrick, who is on the staff of the Office of Arts & Culture, spent several weeks onsite applying these methods. In addition to these measures, paint samples were also taken from the Story of North Island, which will be analyzed for identification of original pigment composition and origin for future work.
IMAGES: Top to bottom, left to right: Story of North Island totem pole after restoration; plaque by the totem pole; totem pole before restoration.
So many interesting ways that humanity has learned to “tell the story” of life. Restoring those symbols of story help us remember who we are as well as the power of words and art in leaving a legacy to the next generation. Thank you for restoring this bit of history to Seattle.