Quercus virginiana : degrees of separation

Title: Quercus virginiana : degrees of separation
Source document: Brno studies in English. 2010, vol. 36, iss. 2, pp. [81]-99
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
Type: Article
License: Not specified license

Notice: These citations are automatically created and might not follow citation rules properly.

Charles Frederic Newcombe was a doctor, field ethnologist, and naturalist who arrived in Victoria, B.C. in 1889. As well as becoming B.C.'s first psychiatrist, he was a prolific collector of coastal First Nations artifacts for many North American museums; his acquisitions eventually formed the aboriginal collections for the Royal British Columbia Museum. As a child living in Victoria, I was taken with my Brownie pack to the home of an elderly man who had many Native artefacts. He lived on the Dallas Road waterfront. Years later I wondered who he was; I hoped he might have been Charles Newcombe or his son William, also a noted ethnologist. In "Quercus virginiana: Degrees of Separation," I attempt to find my way back to that house, to determine how much of my memory can be trusted, and to consider the ways in which the city of my birth and early childhood changed and didn't change. During my investigations, I discovered that another house I had known in my childhood, where I watched an ancient man at work on a totem pole, and had believed then to have existed in Thunderbird Park since the beginnings of time, was in fact an "authentic replica of a Kwakiutl house of the nineteenth century." This discovery contains a series of paradoxes, both territorial and cultural, which proves that nothing is as permanent as change and the shifting boundaries of how we remember the past. Using some archival materials, photographic and textual, the essay mediates between history and memory, the aboriginal context of the place that became Victoria and the colonial reinvention of that place.
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