The Centennial Totem Pole, also known as the Kwakwaka’wakw Centennial Pole, is a 100 foot (30 meter) tall totem pole that sits just south of the maritime museum in Kitsilano. It was carved by Chief Mungo Martin, his son David, and his nephew Henry. Chief Martin had previously been forced to stop carving totem poles as part of the Potlach Ban that ended in 1952. He, and others, then began to revive the practice and art of pole carving. Two identical poles were made and one stands in Windsor Great Park, England. Click here to read an article about Sam Haydahl, the lumberjack who felled the original cedar for the poles, visiting the English site in 2014.
The pole was erected in 1958 as a memorial to British Columbia's centennial year. British parliament had established the Colony of British Columbia 100 years previously. Interestingly only about half of what we now call B.C. was in the original colony. Missing was part of B.C.’s north, east, Vancouver island, Haida Gwaii, and other coastal islands.
So far, out of the First Nations sites that I’ve visited there seems to be an understatedness that I rather enjoy. I don’t know if it is intentional, but when you compare the pole in Vancouver with the pole in England (screen shots from streetview below) you see that they’ve made a whole sitting area and destination whereas our pole is sort of left to speak for itself.
You can visit the English pole on google maps by clicking here.
You can visit the Vancouver pole on google maps by clicking here.
Here is a great article from the CBC about the carver: