Glacier Museum

Notes from the    GLACIER MUSEUM
1) Glacier: a large persistent body of ice formed when the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over years, often centuries. The ice slowly deforms and flows away from the source area in lobes, tongues, or masses due to stresses induced by its weight.
2) “It does not seem to me, Austerlitz added, that we understand the laws    governing the return of the past, . . .”[i]
      A guide to the collections: The Glacier Museum houses visual and textual material pertaining to the naming and claiming process that created our concept of the entity known as Bute Inlet on the Northwest Coast of Canada. The evolving displays are informed by those found in the Wunderkammern and Cabinets of Curiosity assembled in the fifteenth century when exotic materials arrived from the New World and which continued into the eighteenth century when the forty-kilometer long inlet was named after John Stuart, the third Earl of Bute by Captain George Vancouver. The mandate of the museum is to invent taxonomy with which to release and organize a slender two hundred year, incomer history, and the activities of the inlet’s few long-time residents, against vast, implacable landforms and the panoply of indigenous occupation.
As a web diorama The Glacier Museum opens from papers on a table in the installation Naming and Claiming: the Creation of Bute Inlet and onto a numbered collection of textual and visual vignettes that can be considered a” guidebook” to the collections and keys to aspects of the landscape and its history. The arrows below indicate an excerpt from a relevant chapter.
Description: Macintosh HD:Users:judithwilliams:Pictures:WindowsPC:Glacier museum images:Linnaeus 001.jpg       Might it not be?
    I. Snow fell, fell so slowly and in such large, disparate flakes, it appeared to notate a complete depth of field through the three hundred yards from the bunkhouse window, past the dark forest, to the icy tongue of the glacier. Each separate flake, falling in slow motion, articulated the air through which it descended and it seemed as if each crystal, unique as we have been taught, could, if connected, map the entire distance three dimensionally.
II. The Spanish explorers Galiano and Valdes, who paralleled Vancouver’s 1792 explorations to the mouth of Bute Inlet (Brazo de Quintano) in their Goleta’s Sutile and Mexicana, had taken on board the Salish Chief Tetacus in Georgia Straight [now The Salish Sea]. As he guided them north toward the Desolation Sound area, Tetacus told them he’d seen a great bird lift a whale from the sea. When the Spaniards insisted he must have been dreaming, he replied that he had seen it with his own eyes. 
 II. Bute Inlet - Naming and claiming
The Village of The Friendly Indians at Bute’s Canal, The Journals of Captain George Vancouver.
Bute Inlet snakes seventy-five kilometers into the steep flanks of the Coast Range. At the end of the inlet, between the mouth of the Homathko and Teaquahan Rivers, the luminous Bute Glacier hangs suspended between 9000-foot, snow-crested peaks. The inlet is the ancestral territory of the Homalco, speakers of the Salish dialect Ey7a7juuthem. They occupied village sites at U7p (New Church House), “The Village of the Friendly Indians” at the junction of Bute Inlet and the Arran rapids, Pi7pknech on theOrford River, Miimaya, at the Southgate River and at Xwemalhlwu (Swift Water) where the glaciers around Mount Waddington, at over 13,000 feet, the highest mountain in British Columbia, decant the Homathko River into the inlet.  
   historical maps
Bute Inlet. Survey chart by James Johnstone, July 1792, copy by Captain George Vancouver.
At the end of June 1792 Captain George Vancouver and his two ships the Discovery and the Chatham, in tandem with the Spanish Captains Galiano and Valdes in their Goletas, entered what Vancouver named Desolation Sound. From an anchorage at the mouth of Teakerne Arm on West Redonda Island they together commenced a survey and mapping of the area in small boats. Vancouver, occasionally paraphrasing Master Surveyor James Johnstone’s notes about Bute Inlet, wrote in his Journals:
It was noon on the 30th (July, 1792) before we reached that part of the western shore, which had appeared broken, and on which the fires of the natives had been observed on entering this canal; which I distinguished by the name of Bute’s Channel. Here was found an Indian village, situated on the face of a steep rock, containing about one hundred and fifty of the natives, some few of whom had visited our party on their way up canal, and now many came off in the most civil and friendly manner, with a plentiful supply of fresh herrings and other fish, which they bartered in a fair and honest way for nails. From the point on which this village is erected, in latitude 50 degrees 24’, longitude 235 degrees 8’, a very narrow opening [the Arran Rapids] was seen stretching to the westward, and through it flowed so strong a current, that the boats, unable to row against it, were hauled by a rope along the rocky shores formed by the passage.
Lord Bute’s grandson Charles was one of several “young gentlemen”, teenage sons of English aristocracy, who sailed on the Discovery’s four-year voyage. Stuart Island, surrounded by rapids at the inlet’s west mouth, marks Charles presence in the territory. The passage between the mainland and this island was named Arran Rapids after the island of Arran in the Firth of Clyde, County Bute, Scotland.
In his extensive private journals the Discovery’s surgeon/botanist, Archibald Menzies, who avidly botanized his way up the coast, notes that the Earl of Bute, himself a keen botanist and one of the founders of Kew Gardens, had given Vancouver’s officers many helpful suggestions regarding the collection of natural materials prior to the voyage and the coffin-like, glass, plant collection case Joseph Banks had installed on the Discovery’s back deck became a bone of contention between Vancouver and Menzies throughout the voyage.
Lord Bute, like many whose names replace those used by native people, never visited the Northwest Coast but he was a wealthy and influential patron. He was a descendent of the Stewarts, and Anglo-Norman family who came to Scotland in the 11th century and took their name from their office of Hereditary Stewarts to successive Scottish kings. In the 18th c, the Isle of Bute branch of the family adopted the French spelling. Bute owed his influence at the English court to being summoned to take a hand of Whist with Frederick, Prince of Wales at the close of the 1747 races at Egham while a shower of rain subsided. He subsequently became a royal favorite and, on the death of the Prince of Wales from a blow to his head by a cricket ball, Frederick’s wife Augusta, another founding patron of Kew Gardens, caused both political and salacious speculations by appointing Bute finishing tutor to her son the future George III who was later on the throne during Vancouver’s voyage.
The Spanish Captains aboard the Sutile and the Mexicana had been given different operational orders and did not share some territorial secrets from an earlier period when Italian explorer Malaspina had sailed for the Spanish at least as far into the Inside Passage as Texada Island. However, the unspoken agenda of both the 1792 expeditions was the search for the Strait of Anian, the fabled Northwest Passage back to Europe, whose control then, as now, would contribute to a county’s political and economic dominance. Every inlet had to be explored and the first to dock at Nootka would also gain points in the territorial negotiations.
Johnstone returned south from his cutter survey of Johnstone Strait to report his conviction the landmass on the west was an island creating an opening north to the sea. Vancouver decided to backtrack south round Quadra Island and take his two ships north via Seymour Narrows. The Spanish proceeded north mapping and re-naming the territory Vancouver had just labeled on his maps. They sailed past Ceballos (Stuart Island) and through Angostura de los Comandantes (Arran Rapids) at the mouth of what they called Brazo de Quintano (Vancouver’s Bute Inlet). They noted that the designation “Angostura” was the result of the visible anxiety on the part of the "Comandantes" while traversing the rapids which they described as the worst part of their entire journey. Of the people of the “Village of the Friendly Indians” they wrote:
There they saw a large settlement situated in the pleasant plain on the west point of the mouth of the channel of Quintano and proceeded to coast along to the mouth of Angostura. . In the neighbourhood there were a large number of canoes with two or three Indians in each, engaged in sardine fishing. The instrument they used in this task was a rounded piece of wood some three yards long, one third of which was studded with hooks. In this way, dropping this kind of wide toothed comb into the sea, making various draws with it, they caught the sardines on its hooks and gathered them into the canoes. Many of the natives approached our officers without showing the least nervousness. These men were of medium height, well built, strong, of darkish colour, and in their appearance, language and clothing and arms not different from those within the strait.
A Spanish Voyage to Vancouver and the Northwest Coast of America, trans., Cecil Jane, 1930.
herring rakeHerring rake made by August Schnarr, Bute Inlet c. 1940      
The original sketch of the village by the youthful Thomas Heddington depicts people in canoes, canoe haul-outs, a cluster of people and houses behind a palisade on top of the hill and what are conjectured to be mat-shaded, fish drying racks on the cleared hillside. This site and that of Cheslakees Village at the Nimpkish River comprise the only North West Coast villages pictured in Vancouver’s journals. However, it is known that many officers refused their sketches to Vancouver on their return to London as a result of certain disputed events en route.
This Bute Inlet village was not attributed to the Homalco when the Indian Reserves were established in 1912-14 but the current Homalco Band is engaged securing the site within their land claims.
Lord Bute himself slipped while collecting plants in England and died in 1792 as Vancouver explored all the inlets of the Inside Passage and beat the Spaniards to the native village misnamed “Nootka” by Cook. That Cook had misunderstood the name of the site initially seems to have troubled no one but the local Nu Cha Nulth people who had simply been telling Cook that his sweeping gesture meant nootka -“go around the bay”.  Vancouver and Quadra cooly divided up ownership of the coast and “Nootka” the place remained on charts up into the present.
III. Upon his return from Ultuma Thule in Lapland In 1730,the young Carl Linnaeus walked the streets of Falun encased neck to toe in fur. The painting recording his furry carapace shows him holding a shaman’s drum used to bring on spells alongside his belt of collecting gear and fur gauntlets. In his right hand was a sprig of Linnaeaus borealis, the twinflower common to the mossy forests of the Northwest Coast of Canada, which he later had printed on the wallpaper of his bedroom at Hammerby.
His tiny museum in altis there, a museum in the heights, contained a tall red cabinet stacked with his hortus siccus, thecollection of dried plants used for the comparisons necessary to establish his binomial system of plant classification, a taxonomy with which to classify nature. Overhead was hung a joke gift from his students and admirers of a ten-foot composite “fish” assembled from many species. One student, Daniel Solander, traveled with Joseph Banks aboard Captain James Cook’s Endeavour during the 1768 British voyage to record the Transit of Venus across the face of the sun in Tahiti.
Lord Bute
Lord Bute and his wife Mary Wortley Montagu were known to have raised their five sons and six daughters on the books of the enlightenment he’d studied at the University of Leiden while taking his degree in Public and Civil Law in 1732. The theories of the Enlightenment which had followed a period of random collecting sparked by the discovery of new lands led to attitudes toward the natural world that involved containing, cataloging and display in order to capture and to control the natural world.
In order to encourage in their children an interest in the new world in the process of being ‘discovered” the Butes enlivened their children’s, and the future George III’s, learning with readings from Vitis Bearing’s journals of his trip to the North and from the records of 18th century naturalist George Willhelm Stellar who made notes on the flora and fauna of the earth’s most northernmost region before expiring therein.
Although Leiden was already a major center of botanical activity by Bute’s time there, his schooling occurred just before Linnaeus’ galvanizing period in residence when he was developing his classification system. Bute’s fellow Scot Isaac Lawson, stayed on to become a friend of Linnaeus and, with botanist Johan Gronovius the Younger, financed the first printing of Linnaeus’ Systema Naturea in 1735. Bute was an active follower of the botanical theories of his age and Kew Gardens was created to further Enlightenment ideas by collecting and establishing in the garden the vast amounts of plants newly found in North America. Linnaeus visited English gardens for a month in 1736 and there are grounds for assuming that Lawson was for some years Bute’s primary continuing contact with the Leiden group. In 1759 William Aiton was appointed Kew’s head gardener and laid it out according to the Linnaean system to which Bute had become a convert. To Bute fell the enviable job of collecting trees and plants from round the world.
D. P. Miller, writing of the botanizing methodology of Bute’s time, claims: The ways of apprehending and comprehending nature were seizure, description and classification. By seizure I mean the physical act of appropriating nature: collecting it and exhibiting it in mineral cabinets, herbaria and gardens, sometimes, though by no means always, as a preliminary to depicting it in written descriptions and illustrations. Depiction was sometimes part of the process of classification – ‘finding order and affinity within the numerous specimens of animal, vegetable and mineral and publishing one’s results. Nor must we forget that aesthetic appreciation and spiritual communion with nature and the practical uses of its products were as often the goal of seizure as was understanding in a more abstract sense.[ii]
After being elected the first Scottish Prime Minister of England in 1762, Bute was obliged to declare war on Spain although he negotiated peace within a year. It was during a subsequent period of political tension, caused by the Nootka Controversy over ownership of the west coast of what is now called Vancouver Island, that Vancouver was instructed to conclude his Northwest Coast mapping, search for the Northwest Passage and meet the Spanish Captain Bodega y Quadra at Nootka. The two emissaries were directed to conclude the potentially volatile disagreement over the ownership of what the indigenous Nu Cha Nulth considered home territory since Spain, due to a temporary financial embarrassment, wished to avoid going to war.

[i] Sebald, W.G. Austerlitz, Penguin, 2011.
[ii] Miller, D.P. “My favorite studdys”: Lord Bute as naturalist” Lord Bute: Essays on Re-interpretation ed KW Schweizer, Leichester: Leiceater U. Press, 1988.
* The red cabinet if from Linnaeus's study in Hammerby.