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Neil Howell - Comox Queneesh Legend exhibit, daughter Donna in the same museum

Table of Contents

Comox Museum - Legend of the great white whale Queneesh, Elasmosaur excavation

Where is the video?

Photos of the museum display were taken 25Sep2020 during a visit by Irene & Bill Howell (Neil's wife & son), ?? years after the exhibit opened.
(to see a photo in your browser at full-scale, right-click on a photo, select "view image", and zoom in or out)


The main crest painted on the cedar wall represents Kwanis, the grey or white whale. A common practice in Northwest Coast art, the design is "split" with each half of the whale joining at the mouth in order to create a third, frontal view.

For the Comox people, this crest is integral to our identity. One origin for this symbol goes back to the time of the flood when a large white whale saved the Comox Valley. Wee e forever reminded of this act whenever we look upat the Comox glacier, or Kwanis, watching over the community.

The moon and stars above the whale have a number of different meanings. For the design, they at once represent the sky world, while also signifying that our ancestors in the heavens are watching over people. These symbols are formed out of copper because, for us, it is the most precious metal on Earth. It signifies both the wealth of our people and the wealth of the heavens.

Andy Everson, Artist ..."

The Legend of Queneesh - This series of paintings by artist Neil Howell is based on a legend of the Comox Indian Band, who revere the local glacier as the great whale Queneesh. The Dream - In an age long ago an old man has a dream, and a voice tells him that the Comox people must prepare for a coming disaster. The old man tells the chief about the dream, and how the voice warned of tremendous flooding.
The chief calls to his people, and they set to work getting ready for the predicted flood. Foods must be smoked and dried, capes and hats woven to shed heavy rain, canoes mended. Even the children must give up their games to help! As the rains begin, a group of the strongest men are sent to the top of the glacier to attach a woven cedar rope to the mountain. Before long the riverrsbegin to flood, and the only hope for the band and all of its canoes and possessions is that long rope holding them together.
The waters rise higher and higher, while the people baitinuously and struggle to keep the canoes afloat. But they grow more and more afraid. Finally, just as the waters seem about to cover the mountaintop, the huge whale glacier itself begins to move. It takes on a life of its own, breaking through the floodwaters just as a great whale breeches. Startled at first, everyone soon cheers and chants "Queneesh! Queneesh!"- and they realize that the rain too has stopped. In the morning the sun shines bhtly, as the Comox people bow and pray to the great whale that has saved them.
(to see a full-scale photo in your browser, right-click on a photo, then select "view image")

Comox valley elasmosaur excavation, 1988

"... Marine reptile from the late Cretaceous, 80 million years ago.

Elasmosaurs flew through the water using four powerful flippers and log neck to search out prey such as fish and squid.

Discovered on the banks of the Puntledge River in 1988 by local residents Mike Trask and his daughter Heather.

Excavation took place under the direction of the Courtenay Museum and paleontologist, Dr. Rolf Ludvigson. An enthusiastic group of 40 volunteers took 3 months to excavate a nearly complete skeleton.

Identification and preparation was done in Alberta under the direction of Elizabeth Nicholls of the Royal Tyrell Museum and Prehistoric Animal Structures Inc.

(to see a full-scale photo in your browser, right-click on a photo, then select "view image")

19Apr2021 initial, unfinished posting
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