I have been watching a female lizard in my garden slowly increase in girth as her eggs developed in May to early June. I recorded each day whether she was gravid or not, and noted when she lost her tail. Simple observational science is something I could do to better understand common wall lizard biology in BC while working from home.

    Here she was May 20—the last time I saw her with her original tail.

     

    My notes around the time I think eggs were laid went as follows:

    June 5 – basking on rocks, 80% tail lost in the last few days, still looks gravid.

    June 6 – not sighted

    June 7 – not sighted

    June 8 – not sighted

    June 9 – rainy, cold, not sighted

    June 10 – basking on rocks, has folds of skin along the flank suggesting eggs laid.

     

    I have watched our resident female wall lizard as her tail regenerated, and I saw her again yesterday (July 30) sporting a tail several centimeters shorter than the original.

    Our resident female hiding in the shade on a sunny July 30.

    I patrol the garden daily to see what the lizards are doing, and when and where they are active. My wife will confirm this obsessive behaviour. But this morning (July 31) I dropped my daughter off at a day camp, and on return home, as I walked up my driveway, I spotted our first hatchling.

    I gasped—I am not ashamed to admit it.

    The hatchling already seems to have a favourite rock.

    Lizards invaded our garden in 2019, and one year later we have a home-grown baby lizard. It looked pretty comfortable in its new habitat, so perhaps it hatched yesterday (July 30) or the day before. And there is no way to tell, without perhaps a series of DNA samples, whether this hatchling came from the female I have been studying, or whether some other female dug a nest in our garden. Young lizards leave their parents’ territory to avoid cannibalism, so this one may head for the hills. But it does give us an estimate of timing between egg deposition (somewhere between June 6–8, assuming eggs were not laid June 9 when it was cool and rainy) and the first appearance of hatchlings July 31.

    Females mature in their second year and can have one to three clutches of eggs each summer, depending on latitude and local conditions, with clutches ranging from 2 to 10 eggs. In nature, incubation ranges from 6–11 weeks. Embryo development is about halfway at oviposition, and females bury eggs in sandy or crumbly substrates at the end of 10–20 cm tunnels (Van Damme et al. 1992). In a laboratory experiment, temperature dramatically changed incubation times, with wall lizards incubated at 32–35°C hatching 10 days earlier than lizards incubated at 28°C, and over five weeks earlier than those incubated at 24°C (Van Damme et al. 1992). We had a cool spring, and I am not surprised then that 50–52 days passed between the first evidence that the female had laid eggs and the appearance of a hatchling.

    Hatching success is high in the 24–28°C incubation range, and Van Damme et al. (1992) suggested 28°C is the best trade-off between hatching success, incubation rate and hatchling health. I wonder how many more hatchlings will appear in the garden?

    For more information:

    Van Damme, R., D. Bauwens, F. Braña and R.F. Verhyen. “Incubation Temperature Differentially Affects Hatching Time, Egg Survival and Hatchling Performance in the Lizard Podarcis muralis.” Herpetologica 48, no. 2 (1992): 220–228.

    It is 2020, and people are asking whether this year will get any stranger.

    How about barracuda in BC waters? Does that qualify?

    I received several emails and other messages today (July 10) noting that a 5.4 kg barracuda had been caught off Vancouver Island this week. This is a really cool record, and I hope it’s added to iNaturalist.

    Pacific barracuda (Sphyraena argentea) from San Diego, California. Photo by Darren Baker, uploaded to Fishbase IMG-20120830-00071.jpg.

    Pacific barracuda (Sphyraena argentea) are known to range all along our coast, and as Alaska-based biologist Scott Meyer notes, they range north to Alaska during El Niño years. The first record from Alaska (off Kodiak Island) dates back to 1937, when a school of barracuda was sighted, though only one was caught. The surface waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean must have been warm that year, because a barracuda also was caught off Sooke, British Columbia. Another barracuda was found in Prince William Sound, Alaska, in 1958. In BC they are known also from Queen Charlotte Sound and the Prince Rupert area (see Hart 1973). Pietsch and Orr (2019) detail several barracuda records from the Salish Sea in their magnum opus, Fishes of the Salish Sea.

    The first record along the BC coast was a specimen cataloged at the Royal BC Museum (RBCM 33), caught at Otter Point in Sooke, July 27, 1904. It is the only Pacific barracuda in the RBCM collection. According to Peitsch and Orr (2019) the earliest record of Pacific barracuda in the area comes from Gig Harbor, Puget Sound dating back to 1878.

    I wouldn’t mind another specimen for the museum collection to accompany the 1904 specimen and our other warm-water strays: the louvar and finescale triggerfish found here in 2014, the North Pacific argentine from 2010 and the spotted porcupinefish from 2019.

    I wonder what fish is next? Maybe we will get more hammerhead sharks? They were seen off Ucluelet in 1952 and 1953. Sure would be neat to have them here again.

     

    References:

    Carl, Clifford C.  “The Hammerhead Shark in British Columbia.” Victoria Naturalist 11, no. 4 (1954): 37.

    Cowan, Ian McTaggart. “Some Fish Records From the Coast of British Columbia.” Copeia 1938, no. 2: 97.

    Hart, John Lawson. Pacific Fishes of Canada. Fisheries Research Board of Canada Bulletin 180. 740 p.

    Quast, Jay C. 1964. “Occurrence of the Pacific Bonito in Coastal Alaska Waters.” Copeia 1964, no. 2: 448.

    Pietsch, Theodore, and James. W. Orr. Fishes of the Salish Sea, Puget Sound and the Straits of Georgia and Juan de Fuca. Victoria: Heritage House, 2019. 1032 pages.

    Van Cleve, Richard, and W.F. Thompson. “A Record of the Pomfret and Barracuda from Alaska.” Copeia 1938, no. 1: 45-46.

    Authors: Robert J.WilliamsaAlison M.DunnaGavinHankebJoel W.DixonaChristopherHassalla

    aSchool of Biology, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, U.K.
    bRoyal British Columbia Museum, Victoria, BC, Canada

    ABSTRACT

    The human-assisted movement of species beyond their native range facilitates novel interactions between invaders and native species that can determine whether an introduced species becomes invasive and the nature of any consequences for native communities. Avoiding costly interactions through recognition and avoidance can be compromised by the naïvety of native species to novel invaders and vice versa. We tested this hypothesis using the common wall lizard, Podarcis muralis, and the native lizard species with which it may now interact in Britain (common lizard, Zootoca vivipara, sand lizard, Lacerta agilis) and on Vancouver Island (northern alligator lizard, Elgaria coerulea) by exploring species’ responses (tongue flicks, avoidance behaviour) to heterospecific scent cues in controlled experiments. The tongue flick response of P. muralis depended on the different species’ scent, with significantly more tongue flicks directed to E. coerulea scent than the other species and the control. This recognition did not result in any other behavioural response in P. muralis (i.e. attraction, aggression, avoidance). Lacerta agilis showed a strong recognition response to P. muralis scent, with more tongue flicks occurring close to the treatment stimuli than the control and aggressive behaviour directed towards the scent source. Conversely, Z. vivipara spent less time near P. muralis scent cues than the control but its tongue flick rate was higher towards this scent in this reduced time, consistent with an avoidance response. There was no evidence of E. coerulea recognition of P. muralis scent in terms of tongue flicks or time spent near the stimuli, although the native species did show a preference for P. muralis-scented refuges. Our results suggest a variable response of native species to the scent of P. muralis, from an avoidance response by Z. vivipara that mirrors patterns of exclusion observed in the field to direct aggression observed in L. agilis and an ambiguous reaction from E. coerulea which may reflect a diminished response to a cue with a low associated cost. These results have significant implications for the invasive success and potential impacts of introduced P. muralis populations on native lizards.

    Keywords

    biological invasions, chemoreception, indirect competition, non-native Podarcis muralis, scent recognition

    See full article

    See Claudia’s Research Gate profile, which includes her recent publications and peer reviewed articles.

     

    Abstract

    Twenty-eight species of hydroids are now known from Japanese tsunami marine debris (JTMD) sent to sea in March 2011 from the Island of Honshu and landing between 2012 and 2016 in North America and Hawai‘i. To 12 JTMD hydroid species previously reported, we add an additional 16 species. Fourteen species (50%) were detected only once; given the small fraction of debris sampled, this suggests that the diversity of the total arriving hydroid fauna was likely larger. Our ongoing studies provide the first documentation of these species being rafted from one continental margin to another. Plumalecium plumularioides (Clark, 1877) is newly reported for the Japanese hydroid fauna. Fourteen species (52%), held to be either naturally amphi-Pacific or possibly introduced by ships at some earlier date, were already known from the Pacific coast of North America. We suggest that Obelia griffini Calkins, 1899, as represented in the JTMD fauna, may be a North Pacific oceanic neustonic species. We propose that Hydrodendron mirabile (Hincks, 1866) and its congeners be included in the family Phylactothecidae Stechow, 1921, here emended. We establish a new family, Plumaleciidae Choong and Calder, 2018, to accommodate the genus Plumalecium Antsulevich, 1982.

    See full article

    Working at home has allowed me to pay plenty of attention to the individual lizards in our garden. I can watch where they go, locate preferred basking spots in the garden, watch what they eat, and try to figure out when eggs have been deposited and, later, when hatchlings will emerge.

    Individuals are easy to identify based on size, sex and scarring. Most lizards have tails that have regrown, and the relative length of the original tail helps identify each animal.

    Our gravid female wall lizard on May 22 (left) and May 26 (right), 2020, with a complete tail.

    Our gravid female had a perfect tail until recently, but on June 5, I noticed that she had been attacked. Her tail was now less than a quarter of its original length. The stump was still fresh and had not grown over with new skin.

    We have several domestic cats vying for our garden (they also like using our garden beds as a litter box). The complexity of our garden attracts lots of birds, and it’s prime hunting territory for pudgy suburban felids to roam and kill at will. One cat (we know him as Meow, because that is what he said when we asked him his name), is a frequent visitor to our yard. He is likely the local lizard lacerator.

    Our female lizard on June 5 with a freshly cropped tail (inset).

    By June 10, the tail had healed and had a convex growing bud.

    By June 19, the regrown portion was obvious at about 3 mm long (inset).

    By June 26, the tail had seriously sprouted.

    And on July 4, we estimated the regrown portion of the tail was 29 mm.

    It appears that the growth is slow at first as the tail heals and the tissues organize themselves, but between June 19 and July 4, the tail grew an estimated 26 mm. The regrown tail will never be as long as the original, but it can be shed again if the lizard is attacked.

    Nature is amazing. Field bindweed, an invader from Eurasia, grows at an alarming rate in our garden. Beans can go from a mere sprout to a massive flowering plant in a few weeks. And we can add lizard tails to our list of fast-growing crops.

    When we harvest leafy veggies like lettuce, chard or New Zealand spinach, we take a few leaves for our meal and leave the rest of the plant to grow. The would-be predator attacking the wall lizards in our yard is also harvesting tails and letting the lizards regrow a new crop. I don’t think domestic cats have the mental capacity to intentionally farm lizard tails, but that is effectively what is happening.

    Robb Bennett¹,², David Blades², Gergin Blagoev³, Don Buckle⁴, Claudia Copley², Darren Copley², Charles Dondale⁵, and Rick C. West⁶

    1 Corresponding author – robb.bennett@shaw.ca
    2 Natural History Section, Royal British Columbia Museum, 675 Belleville St, Victoria, BC, Canada
    3 Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada
    4 16-3415 Calder Crescent, Saskatoon, SK, Canada
    5 Canadian National Collection, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, 960 Carling Ave, Ottawa, ON, Canada (retired)
    6 6365 Willowpark Way, Sooke, BC, Canada

    Abstract:

    In 2006, the Royal British Columbia Museum began systematically documenting the full diversity of British Columbia’s spider fauna. Initially, museum specimens and literature records were used to update an existing checklist and identify poorly sampled habitats in BC. Annual field surveys of spiders, primarily targeting alpine and subalpine habitats, began in 2008; barcode identification of previously unidentifiable specimens commenced in 2012. These efforts have resulted in significant increases in the area of BC that has been sampled for spiders, the number of species documented in the BC checklist, and the number of specimens in the RBCM collection. Many of the additions to the checklist represent the first Canadian or Nearctic records of those taxa or are undescribed species. By 2017, data from more than 9000 spider specimens had been entered into the RBCM database.Data from many specimens, however, remain unrecorded and currently (2017) the RBCM collection is estimated to house more than 90 000 specimens. The number of species recorded in BC has climbed from 212 in 1967 through 653 in 2006 to 859 in 2017. Here we present BC localities data and general global distributions for those 859 taxa. The progress of the RBCM’s work has made the RBCM an important repository of western Nearctic spiders and shown that British Columbia is an important area of Nearctic spider diversity.

    See full article

    I recently spent a glorious sunny day on Willows Beach in Victoria. Staghorn sculpins (Leptocottus armatus) and many small soles raced to deeper water as we walked along in ankle-deep water. The tide was out. People were everywhere, but no one was lifting rocks to see everything hiding in plain sight.

    Further up the beach was a line of marine macroalgae (especially Ulva, sea lettuce) stranded by the receding tide. Under each rock you can expect a handful of isopods, as well as shore crabs and small Dungeness crabs that scuttle away, and even the tiniest puddles under a rock sheltered up to 8 fish—sculpins and gunnels. The sun heated the beach, but under the algae-draped rock, water stayed shaded and cool and kept everything alive until the tide returned.

    Most pools had tidepool sculpins (Oligocottus maculosus), and most were the typical grey-brown mottled form. But there also were many of these green sculpins—the same species as the typical grey-brown tidepool sculpin. These green sculpins are perfectly camouflaged in patches of sea lettuce.

    A bright-green tidepool sculpin sure stands out from its typical grey-brown relatives.

    Without the usual coloration to rely on, you have to look more carefully to see whether this is a tidepool or fluffy sculpin (O. snyderi). Fluffy sculpins have cirri (little wispy flaps of skin) along the lateral line in clusters of three to six, and the clusters of cirri follow the lateral line along the flank of the body. This photo—even though it was taken with my old iPhone 6. which performs poorly when taking macro shots—shows that the cirri along the lateral line are only found near the head, and they are single. This clearly is not a fluffy sculpin.

    Next time you are on the beach and the tide is out, take some time to explore tidepools and rocky ledges along the shore, and carefully lift some rocks. You probably will find a lime-green sculpin or two. You may also find lime-green penpoint gunnels (Apodichthys flavidus) or rosylip sculpin (Ascelichthys rhodorus). If you are really lucky, you will find sculpins with bright-pink colouration to match coraline algae, or a blue-and-red-banded longfin sculpin (Jordania zonope). Even in this city, there is plenty to see along shore.

    On June 16, I received notification that my blog post on introduced lizards in Hawaii was live on the internet. The last paragraph in that article is about western fence lizards (Sceloporus occidentalis), where I ask people who see them in BC, to report the observation (with a picture if possible), or tag the occurrence in iNaturalist. Western fence lizards were on Matsuda et al.’s (2006) radar as a potential immigrant since the species exists so close to the Canadian border.

    A Plateau Fence Lizard (S. tristichus) I photographed in Arizona in the year 2000.

    Between submitting that blog post and it going live, the plea for lizard sightings was answered. A report came my way of a western fence lizard loose in BC. I had always assumed the first record would surface in the Okanagan region, since several anecdotes from there suggest fence lizards are already present as far north as Oliver. Furthermore, field guides show western fence lizards just south of the Okanagan region (St. John 2002; Stebbins and McGinnis 2018) and Storm et al. (1995) presented a range map for western fence lizards having a straight line at the international border. Lizards don’t recognize political boundaries, so there is no way Storm et al.’s map is accurate. Fence lizards would do really well in the orchards, fence lines and piles of fruit crates of the southern Okanagan.

    Instead of the Okanagan, the first record of a western fence lizard in British Columbia came from the Cloverdale area of Surrey, on June 6, 2020.

    The newly discovered western fence lizard from Surrey, British Columbia; photo by R. Farrell.

    Our first confirmed western fence lizard was a juvenile, and it had lost its tail to some would-be predator. We have no idea how this lizard arrived in BC; most likely it is a stow-away from south of the international border. It could have been an escaped pet, or maybe there is a population now in the area that has gone unreported. The lizard is still loose, but we are hoping to catch it and add it to the museum collection.

    The lizard is strangely coloured for a western fence lizard, but it does have the yellow-orange tint to the rear surfaces of the fore and hind limbs. The other possible look-alike in the region, though not in Canada, is the sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus graciosus), which has white on the undersides of its limbs. Sagebrush lizards are in Washington, but nowhere near as close to BC as western fence lizards (Storm et al. 1995; St. John 2002; Stebbins and McGinnis 2018). The nearest population of western fence lizards in Puget Sound is at Cherry Point, about 27 km south of where the Cloverdale specimen surfaced, thanks to a researcher in 1990 who released a handful of fence lizards to see if a population would get established.

    Western fence lizard from Deschutes County, Oregon; photo by A. St. John.

    In addition to this Cloverdale record in Surrey, a western fence lizard was reported on iNaturalist, April 2019, at MacNeill Secondary School, Richmond, British Columbia. However, this 2019 report cannot be verified since neither specimen nor photograph are available. Perhaps a second western fence lizard is loose in BC. Maybe it’s a sagebrush lizard. It would be great to get a picture of that Richmond reptile to verify the species.

    And I am still not giving up on the Okanagan—if you live anywhere between Summerland and the international border, keep your eyes peeled for fence lizards!

    Some background information:

    Matsuda, B. M., D. M. Green, and P. T. Gregory. 2006. Amphibians and Reptiles of British Columbia. Royal BC Museum, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

    Stebbins, R. C., and S. M. McGinnis. 2018. Peterson Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, Massachusetts.

    St. John, A. 2002. Reptiles of the Northwest, British Columbia to California. Lone Pine Press, Renton, Washington.

    Storm, R. M., W. P. Leonard, H. A. Brown, R. B. Bury, D. M. Darda, L. V. Diller, and C. R. Peterson. 1995. Reptiles of Washington and Oregon. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle, Washington.

    Rain this June has reduced our watering bill. Rain helps the plants we want, and also helps the weeds, so we spend a few hours each weekend weeding here and there. We are now well into the growing season, and we got a few new plants. From left to right below: the wasabi plant;  behind it, an acacia (which will be potted—can’t wait to see it flower); a raspberry that creeps along the ground (YAY—ground cover in the food forest that produces food and limits the regrowth of grass); and a gooseberry. The ferns (below) we have had for a while in the shade along the side of the house and they need some TLC. Both sides of the house need some thought and effort once the main food-producing areas are established. The wasabi is growing well, and that acacia was so crazy looking that I couldn’t resist.

    In the front food forest we have apples, cherries and blueberries well on the way.

    Beans, onions and potatoes are growing fast.

    The honey berries ripened early and we had them in pancakes. The front third of the garden is covered in wood chip and has three new sea buckthorns (far right below), a rose (middle) has set itself along the driveway, and I buried a few salmon berries to see if we can grow a few of those—that’ll bring in the hummingbirds. It is an area the deer can access. They seem to leave it all alone, and now that the grass is bashed back, only minor weeding is needed.

    The back yard is looking lush. Along the eastern fence (on the right in this panorama) is our thornless blackberry—last year we had about 3 kg of berries—this year it is COVERED with flowers. What a bounty—and we save them frozen for winter crisps and smoothies (or for a small human who likes eating frozen berries like candy). The area around the sunken patio needs some effort—there are herbs in there—but the grass and other agressive plants have run wild.

    The peppers, squash, cucumbers and pumpkin are growing nicely out back, although they are along the west side of the garden and our neighbour’s cedar hedge does drain the life from that soil. Plants grow poorly the closer they are to the cedars. Volunteer kale holds on and will seed again—yay kale.

    Strawberries are ripening daily. You can’t beat the flavour of home grown strawberries warmed in the sun.

    Ladybird beetles are everywhere. We have at least seven lizards in the front garden, and maybe three or four in the back. The female wall lizard which was obviously loaded with eggs now looks lighter, so we can expect hatchlings in a few weeks. The photo below is the male that may be the father of this year’s hatchlings, and as far as I can tell, our only garden lizard in the front yard with an intact tail.

    The poppies are popping up all over the place. Tomatoes and cabbage are rocketing up, and the New Zealand spinach is ready for selective harvest. Chives have gone to seed, a leek has a seed head taller than Anna, and the lettuce is still growing well. There’s so much to eat in such a small space.

    The usual avian suspects are flitting about—Bewick’s wrens; crows, which are now dive-bombing pedestrians; robins, which have nested and are much quieter; and Anna’s hummingbirds, chipping sparrows and house finches, which pop by regularly. We were buzzed by an osprey the other day—that was neat to see.

    And I finally got around to protecting our grape with netting (above). The local mule deer seem to notice it once it grows about six leaves, and then they strip the plant. Not this year.

    The garden is never finished, and it is always a learning experience. We are starting a chop-and-drop program to leave cut debris in place rather than taking it over to a separate compost pile. The chopped and dropped debris acts like leaves in a forest to reduce rain compaction of soil, and eventually it rots and adds organic matter to the surface – to be re-worked by nature. Probably the greatest thing to see is our daughter learning about the seasons in the garden, where food really comes from, what is ready to eat and what is not.

    What does a cork have to do with my research? Cork was produced in Europe and North Africa and shipped to North America in bulk until the Atlantic was blockaded during WWII. Stow-away pests were inevitable.

    In the 1940s, the western green lizard (Lacerta bilineata) was introduced repeatedly to Gloucester, New Jersey, as a stowaway in bales of cork bark (Kraus 2009; Burke and Deichsel 2008; Lever 2003; Conant 1945). In 1944, a single specimen of the ocellated lizard (Timon lepidus) also was caught on the Gloucester piers (Conant 1945). Common wall lizards (Podarcis muralis) also appeared over several years in New Jersey in the 1940s from shipments of cork bark (Kraus 2009; Conant 1945). The diversity of stowaway lizards underlines the ease and risk of accidental transport of lizards. Maybe the switch to synthetic stoppers has plugged this international leak in border security.

    All corks aside, British Columbia’s wine region has been invaded twice by common wall lizards (that we know of). In 1983, a handful of these invasive lizards were intentionally released in two private gardens in Summerland. Fortunately for the ecology of the Okanagan valley, the Summerland introductions failed. The second invasion, in 2015, consisted of a lone wall lizard found at a vineyard in Osoyoos, transported as a stow-away in a shipment of grapes from Vancouver Island. Fortunately for fans of BC wines, the lizard was removed before grapes were crushed, and died in captivity.

    You can see the record in iNaturalist, though the exact location in Osoyoos area has never been pined down.

    While writing this short post I tripped across a website for the LacertA Winery in Romania. Their label showcases the eastern green lizard (Lacerta viridis), which grows to 45 cm total length. Imagine if eastern green lizards had been released here instead of the much smaller common wall lizard!

    Photos courtesy of Walter Friedl, managing partner, LacertA Winery.

    According to Speybroeck et al. (2016), Romania has us beaten for lizard diversity with the snake-eyed skink (Ablepharus kitaibelii), eastern slow worm (Anguis colchica), slow worm (A. fragilis), the steppe runner (Eremias arguta), sand lizard (Lacerta agilis), Balkan green lizard (L. trilineata), meadow lizard (Darevskia praticola), viviparous lizard (Zootoca vivipara), common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis) and Balkan wall lizard (P. tauricus). And now I can’t look at, or open, a bottle of wine without thinking of lizards.

    References:

    Burke RL, Deichsel G. 2008. Lacertid Lizards introduced into North America: History and Future. 347-353. In: Urban Herpetology. Mitchell JC, Jung Brown RE, Bartholomew B. (eds).  Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. Salt Lake City, Utah.

    Conant B. 1945. More reptiles in cork shipments. Copeia 1945(4):233.

    Engelstoft, C., J. Robinson, D. Fraser and G. Hanke. 2020. Recent rapid expansion of European Wall Lizards (Podarcis muralis) in British Columbia, Canada. Northwestern Naturalist 101(1): 50-55.

    Kraus F. 2009. Alien Reptiles and Amphibians: A Scientific Compendium and Analysis. Invading Nature: Springer Series in Invasion Ecology 4. Drake JA (ed). Springer, New York.

    Lever C. 2003. Naturalized Reptiles and Amphibians of the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

    Speybroeck, J., W. Beukema, B. Bok, J. Van Der Voort, and I. Velikov. 2016. Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Britain and Europe. Helm Field Guide Series, Bloomsbury, London, United Kingdom.

    During the first visits of Hudson’s Bay Company officials to Victoria Harbour—William McNeil in 1837 and McNeil with John Work and John McLoughlin in 1839—there was no information recorded about the Indigenous Lekwungen peoples of the area. (Keddie 2003)

    The first information was recorded in 1842 during the visit of the company’s James Douglas to settle on the location of the future Fort Camosun—later Fort Victoria. It was during Douglas’s second visit in 1843 that he brought along the Québécois Jesuit Jean Baptiste Zacharie Bolduc, a missionary who was part of the Quebec Mission to the Pacific Northwest (fig. 1).

    Figure 1. Jean-Baptiste-Zacharie Bolduc. Courtesy of Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec. P560,S2,D1,P109.

    The accounts of the Bolduc provide some of the most important observations of the Indigenous peoples in the Victoria region, more so than those of Douglas at that time. It is important in this regard to be familiar with the different versions of the Bolduc accounts that have been presented in the literature and used by various researchers.

    One difference in the accounts that is significant is Bolduc’s observation of 525 people at Cadboro Bay—the only village observed and visited in 1843. Unfortunately, anthropologist Wilson Duff, in his study of the Victoria Treaties (Duff 1969), used a reference that did not have this account. One wonders what different conclusions Duff may have come to if he was familiar with Bolduc’s original writings.

    To understand the context of what Bolduc documented it is important to know where he was during his visit and more precisely what he said. In examining the information from Bolduc, I referred to and compared published accounts in French and their various English translations when considering statements such as the number of 525 people identified by Bolduc at Cadboro Bay on March 17, 1843. I consider Bolduc’s statements about the number of people he observed to be accurate estimates.  My conclusions were based on the original published documents of Bolduc, his propensity to record accurate information and statements he made of the circumstances of his visit.

    What is crucial here is that there are translations of Bolduc’s work that do not mention the 525 people at Cadboro Bay, as well as other important details. The reference pertaining to Cadboro Bay that I used was Bolduc’s original 1844 account, translated by Landerholm (1956), which is similar to that of a later editor/translator, Kowrach (1979). The latter author used the English translations of Landerholm and others in his French to English translation. Both of the latter translators used the French language documents in the collections of the Oregon Historical Society as well as earlier English translations.

    The incomplete English translation of De Smet that casts doubt on Bolduc’s statement regarding the count of 525 people at Cadboro Bay is an earlier 1847 English translation by Father De Smet: “Oregon Missions and Travels over the Rocky Mountains in 1845-46, Edward Dunigan, New York.”  This does not mention the count of 525 people at the Cadboro Bay village. The missing figure is also absent from De Smet’s earlier, French-language version, “Colombie. Extract d’une letter do M. Bolduc, Missionaire apostolique, a M. Cayene, Cowlitze, le 15 fevrier 1844” (1845).

    However, what is significant is that De Smet’s French-language publication was not a direct copy from French to French, but extracts and paraphrasing of Bolduc’s documents. De Smet simply left out material that he did not think was important or that did not present Bolduc in a favourable manner, such as his complaint about having to shake so many hands at Cadboro Bay. The count of 525 people at Cadboro Bay was included in Bolduc (1845).

    De Smet’s 1847 English translation was from the altered and incomplete French version. The reference was simply left out by De Smet. Wilson Duff, in writing about the Victoria Treaties, used the information from historian Kaye Lamb (1943), who also obtained his information from De Smet’s incomplete writings.

    The Best Published French Language Source

    The best published source in the French language of Bolduc’s trip to Vancouver Island is the 1845 publication of Bolduc’s Journal and letters: “Mission De La Columbie. Deuxieme Lettre et Journal of M. J.-B.-Z. Bolduc, Missionnaire A La Columbie. Quebec: De L’imprimerie De J.-B. Frechette, Pere, Imprimeur-Labraire, No. 13, Rue Lamontagne,” under the subtitle: “A Vant-Propos. Suite Du Journal De M. Bolduc, Missionnaire A La Columbie” is the “Exrait du Canadian du 19 fevrier, 1845”. Within this are two letters, the second on 28 pages being the one of concern here, entitled: “Extrait Du Journal De M. Bolduc” – “Adreese a M. C…… T……. Cawlitz, 15 fevrie 1844”.  Both of the 1843 and 1845 journal documents contained in this larger document and written in French (RBCM Archives N.W. 970.7 B687m; old manuscript MS-0580) were translated into English by Tess Jennings (1937). Jennings’s translation is from the Bolduc 1845 French-language copy in the RBCM Archives (NW970.7 B687m). The 1843  journal of Bolduc does not contain information on southern Vancouver Island.

    Bolduc’s Reliability as an Observer

    In the 1845 publication of Bolduc, the editor/printer Pere Frechette comments in the preface, as translated by Jennings: As in the first Journal, we do not wish to change in any way the form in which it was written.”

    There are five volumes entitled “Missions de Quebec” in the library of the Oregon Historical Society (Landerholm 1956). One of the seven reports translated by Landerholm is entitled “Mission de la Colombie. Notice No. 6,” dated July 1845. The latter includes Bolduc’s travels to Puget Sound and Vancouver Island. These documents provide a view of how careful Bolduc was in documenting numbers of various Indigenous groups and numbers of converts. This was originally published as a report of the Missions of the Quebec Diocese. On page 2, is the translation of a letter of Bolduc’s entitled “Mission of the Cowletz River, March, 1843. On page 4 is the translated statement of Bolduc:

    “I am also going to keep a journal of my northern trip, and try to assemble reliable facts concerning these nations of faraway places.”

    In this report of March 6, 1843, Bolduc regularly provides estimates of the numbers of people in the many groups he visits. He shows interest in leaning the names of individual communities and his keen interest in languages is shown in his writing of a dictionary of the Chinook language.  Bolduc was clearly an experienced observer. His statements about population numbers can be considered accurate. Bolduc’s statement about the numbers of Indigenous people he observed in the Victoria area in 1843 cannot be dismissed as unreliable.

    Figure 2. Portion of the 1842 Adolphus Lee Lewis map showing the village location at Cadboro Bay and the proposed location of Fort Victoria. Courtesy of the Hudson Bay Company Archives. Provincial Archives of Manitoba. Map Collection G.2/25(T11146).

    Cadboro Bay Commentary of Bolduc

    Some additional commentary is necessary regarding the missing pieces of the Landerholm translation of Bolduc, which goes as follows:

    “We headed for the southern point of Vancouver Island. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when we arrived there. At first we saw only two canoes, but, having discharged two cannon shots, the aborigines left their retreats and surrounded the steamboat. The following day canoes arrived from all sides. Seeing that there was no danger, I landed with the commander of the expedition and the captain. Yet it was only after several days… that I went to their village, situated at six miles from the harbor [from Victoria harbour] at the base of a charming little bay [Cadboro Bay]. Like almost all of the surrounding tribes, this one possesses a stockade fort of about 150 feet square. They fortify themselves thus to provide shelter from the Yougletas [Lekwiltok], a powerful and warlike tribe… These ferocious enemies fall, usually at night, on the villages they wish to destroy, kill and massacre as many of the men as they can, and take the women and children as slaves. On top of posts in the fort one sees many human heads sculptured in red or black, and occasionally both colors together. On my arrival the whole village, men, women and children, arranged themselves in two lines to shake hands with me, a ceremony which they would not omit for a great deal. I counted 525 individuals, apart from absent ones. I assembled them all in the largest lodge, the chiefs’.”

    In his 1845 French publication, Bolduc notes on page 12: “Je comptai 525 individus, et plusieurs etaient absents.” Jennings’s translation of this is the same as that of Kowrach (1979:108): I counted five hundred twenty-five individuals and many were absent.” Landerholm (1956:193) translates the French as: “I counted 525 individuals, apart from absent ones.”. I thought it was more likely that the end of Bolduc’s sentence would be correct as: “and several were absent.”

    I consulted with French teacher Deni St. Clair of Victoria in regard to Jennings’s English interpretation of the statement about the number count in Cadboro Bay. St. Clair pointed out that “plusieurs” is properly spelt as “plusiers” and noted that: “The potential problem I see here is that the dictionary meaning of plusiers is “several” not “many” (St. Clair, personal communication, December 21, 2014).

    The interpretation that “several were absent” makes sense in the context of Bolduc’s observation in “the following days” when he made a journey to where Indigenous people were cutting posts for the fort. Here Bolduc notes: “I baptized three more children who were absent the day of solemn baptism.” The latter “solemn baptism” is referring to the baptism of children on March 17 at Cadboro Bay.

    James Douglas makes reference the day before to the activities of cutting posts mentioned by Bolduc:

    “Spoke to the Samose today and informed them of our intention of building in this place which appeared to please them very much and they immediately offered their services in procuring pickets for the establishment.” Douglas had offered to give them a 2 1/2 point blanket for every 40 pickets of 22ft. by 36in (Douglas 1843).

    Were there people other than Lekwungen at Cadboro Bay?

    One might speculate that Bolduc may have brought outside Indigenous people with him on his first visit to Cadboro Bay on March 17. There is no evidence to support the idea that large numbers of people accompanied Bolduc on his first trip to Cadboro Bay. Bolduc does not mention anyone going with him on his first trip, but he does mention people accompanying him on his second trip to Cadboro Bay from Victoria Harbour.

    As Bolduc is writing about the events of March 17, 1843, after they occurred, the wording he uses suggests that the other groups came after hearing about his visit to Cadboro Bay and began arriving in Victoria Harbour the day before or the morning of the day he set up his outdoor chapel in Victoria Harbour. After telling the Songhees that he would return on Sunday, Bolduc states (1845:13): “Cependant le bruit de mon arrive s’etant repandu dans le voisinage, plusieurs nations arriverent en masse.”

    Jennings’s translation of this is: “But the sound of my coming is being widespread in the neighborhood, many nations arrived en masse.”  Landerholm’s (1956:194) English translation is: “Meanwhile the rumor of my arrival having spread, several neighboring tribes came en masse.” There is no information to suggest that other tribes or Lekwungen from other villages were present during Bolduc’s visit on March 17 to Cadboro Bay. The quotation referred to is related to a time frame after Bolduc’s visit to Cadboro Bay. Based on Bolduc’s information we can conclude that the 525 people at Cadboro Bay were likely all Lekwungen who primarily lived at Cadboro Bay and did not include outside populations.

    Here is Landerholm’s version of the events after Bolduc told the Lekwungen that he would return to Cadboro Bay on the 19th to baptise the children:

    “Meanwhile the rumor of my arrival having spread, several neighbouring tribes came en masse. The 18th being Sunday, I employed it for constructing a temporary alter [near Victoria Harbour] for celebrating on land the Lord’s day. On Sunday early in the morning, more than 1,200 natives from three great tribes, Kawitshins, Klalams, and Tsamishes, [Cowichan, Klallam and Songhees], assembled around the modest temple… That day being the one I had set for the baptism of children, I went to the principal village [Cadboro Bay] accompanied by a Canadian named Gobin and all the crowd that had been present at the divine service. On arrival, I had again to submit to the terrible ceremony of shaking hands with more than 600 persons. The children were placed in two lines at the seaside. I distributed to each one a holy name on a bit of paper, and I began the ceremony. It may have been about ten o’clock, and when I had finished it was almost nightfall; then I counted the new Christens and found 102 of them. On top of that I had to go more than two leagues on foot to return to the steamboat.”

    The Location of the Boats’ Anchorage

    There has been some confusion regarding the specific location where the Beaver was anchored and where some Indigenous people were coming from during the start of Bolduc’s March 15 visit.

    I would interpret the anchorage of the steamship Beaver to be inside Shoal Point at the west end of Victoria’s Inner Harbour, either at what is now the Fishermans’ Wharf location or just east of Laurel Point. The latter we know was the anchorage during the 1839 visit (Keddie 2003).

    There are several details of translation that need to be discussed pertaining to the Landerholm translation regarding the first observations at the expeditions arrival.

    The translation: “At first we saw only two canoes” leaves out the activity of fishing. Bolduc’s “Nous ne vimes d’abord que deux canots occupes a’ pecher” should say: “We at first only saw two canoes occupied in fishing”.

    The translation: “but, having discharged two cannon shots, the aborigines left their retreats and surrounded the steamboat. The following day canoes arrived from all sides”. This could be interpreted to say that Indigenous people came immediately in large numbers shortly after the boat arrived in the harbour, but: “Mais bientot le canon fit sortir les indigenes de leurs retraites” should be translated as: But the canon soon made the natives leave their retreats and “Cependant, comme il se fesait déjà tard, nous n’en vimes que peu ce jour-la.” becomes:  However, as it was already late, we saw but few that day.

    “Mais le lendemain de bon matin, il fallait voir les canots arriver do [de NOT DO] tout cote et entourer le steam boat.”  [But], The next morning it was possible to see canoes arrive from every side and surround the steamboat. From this observation it appears that only one canoe with two people fishing was seen in Victoria’s Inner Harbour. It was not until the next day that more people came in canoes from elsewhere.

    Bolduc writes: “Seeing that there was no danger, I landed with the commander of the expedition and the captain”. This fits with Douglas statement, that after a night on the Beaver he went out the next morning to examine “the wood of the north shore of the harbor.” This clearly indicates that the Beaver was not anchored off Clover Point but was in a harbour with forest on the north shore.

    In 1927 there was a discussion among local historians regarding the locations of the 1842 and 1843 visits of James Douglas. In regard to the 1842 visit C.C. Pemberton mentions in a letter of October 19 to historian Kaye Lamb and to Judge Howay that Walbran (who had a considerable knowledge about the origin of place names but mistakenly referred to the “1841” Douglas survey): “remarks that Sir James’ grandson had informed him that Sir James made his first landing from the Beaver at Clover Point, . . . and . . . party then walked through the area of Beacon Hill Park to the Gorge” but Pemberton knew nothing about it.  “I believe that when Sir James made his survey in 1842, he came in the Cadboro, and in 1843 he landed from the Beaver at Shoal Point…. I think I have a faint remembrance of hearing, when I was a boy, of this landing, and naming of Clover Point.”

    Pemberton, in a another letter to Judge Howay, on November 2, pertaining to the 1842 visit, noted that: “D. H. McNeill. . . says that he knows that his grandfather, Capt. Wm. McNeill, landed Sir James and party at Clover Point, and then went around to Victoria Harbour and anchored, waiting for them to return to the Beaver.”(Pemberton 1927).

    Conclusion

    Bolduc’s writings have suffered from problems of translation, but his work is significant in providing a glimpse of Lekwungen peoples as they were in the spring of 1843.


    References

    Bolduc, Jean Baptiste. 1844. Letter of M. Bolduc to M.C. of February 15. In: Notices & Voyages of the Famed Quebec Mission to the Pacific Northwest, pp. 189-198. Oregon Historical Society. 1956.
    Bolduc, Jean-Baptisite Zacharie. 1845. “Extrait Du Journal De M. Bolduc” “Adreese a M. C…… T……. Cawlitz, 15 fevrie 1844]. (RBCM Archives N.W. 970.7 B687m – old manuscript MS-0580).
    De Smet, Pierre-Jean. 1844. Voyages aux Montagnes Rogcheuses et Une Annee de Sejour. Chez Les Tribes Indiennes Du Vaste Territoire De L-Oregon, Dependant, Des Etats-Unis D’Amerique, Par le R. P. Pierre De Smet, Missionarie De La Compagne De Jesus. Malines. P.J. Hanicq, Imprinmeur De Saint Siege, De La Sacree Congregation De La Propagande et De L’archevech De Malines.
    De Smet, Piere-Jean. 1845. Annals De La Propagation De La F01 Recueil Periodique. Tome Dix-Septieme, A Lyon. Copy in the Royal B.C. Museum Archives (NW 282 A614, Vol. 17).
    Douglas, James. 1851. In: Private Papers of Sir James Douglas, RBCM Archives B20/1853.
    Douglas, James. 1843. Diary of a Trip to Victoria, March 1–21, 1843. RBCM Archives, Ms A/B/40/D75.4.
    Douglas, James. 1850.  Letter of September 1, in Fort Victoria Letters 1846-1851. The Hudson’s Bay Record Society, Vol. XXXII, p. 115–118.
    Douglas, James. Diary of a Trip to Victoria. March 1-21, 1843. RBCM Archives A/B/40/D75.4a.
    Duff, Wilson. 1969. The Fort Victoria Treaties, BC Studies 3:3-57.
    Jennings, Tess.  1937. (Translator). “Mission of the Columbia. Second Letter and Journal of Father J. –B. Z. Bolduc. Missionary of the Columbia”. Works Progress Administration, Project 4185, Frederick E. Bolton, Sponsor and Project 5606, J.S. Richards, Sponsor. Seattle, Washington, (RBCM N.W. 970.7 B687d).
    Keddie, Grant. 2003. Songhees Pictorial. A History of the Songhees People as seen by Outsiders, 1790-1912. Royal B.C. Museum, Victoria.
    Kowrach, Edward J. 1979. (Editor and translator) Mission of the Columbia. Jean Baptisite Zacharie Bolduc. Ye Galleon Press, Fairfield, Washington.
    Lamb, W. Kaye. 1943. The Founding of Fort Victoria. British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. VII, no. 2, April.
    Lamb, Kaye. 1943. The Founding of Victoria. The Beaver, Outfit 273, March, 1943:3-8.
    Landerholm, Carl (Translator. 1956. Letter of M. Bolduc to M.C. of February 15. In: Notices & Voyages of the Famed Quebec Mission to the Pacific Northwest, pp.189-198. Oregon Historical Society.
    Pemberton, C.C. 1927. Add. Mss.0522; letter to Kaye Lamb E D P361.9; letter to Judge Howay, Oct. 19, 1927.

    I learn new things just by sitting in my garden and watching the behaviours of common wall lizards (Podarcis muralis). Flies may be fast, but lizards nab them. I put cutworm grubs on a pile of rocks and lizards happily sneak up and grab them too. Lizards eat ants.

    People tell me wall lizards eat earthworms, even dried earthworms. I have received photos of wall lizards eating wasps. Wall lizards eat each other. They eat their own eggs.

    But one thing that is abundant in my garden that lizards leave alone is the ladybug. We have several species of ladybug. The lizards have specific rock piles they seem to hold as resident territory, especially this pair of adults (above)—these two are always close to a small rock pile in my garden.

    Right now, those same rocks are covered with larvae, pupae and adult ladybugs. Ladybugs smell bad because they emit:

    2,5-dimethyl-3-methoxypyrazine (DMMP)

    2-isopropyl-3-methoxypyrazine (IPMP)

    2-sec-butyl-3-methoxypyrazine    and

    2-isobutyl-3-methoxypyrazine

    The smell is described as a mixture of nutty, green bell pepper, potatoes and mould. I assume ladybugs taste like they smell. Even the yearling lizards in my garden are leaving the pupae and larvae of ladybugs alone, so they must learn early to leave ladybugs alone.

    Even a small number of ladybugs can taint a batch of wine, and since lizards taste their way through the garden, constantly flicking their tongues, it is no wonder they leave ladybugs alone. Lizards likely don’t even have to bite a ladybug to know it is unpalatable.

    Ladybugs and wall lizards do however eat the same prey—aphids. Gardeners may be happy to have both of these colourful predators in their gardens.

     

    The chemicals in ladybug emissions are from:

    Rovner, S.L. 2007. Why Ladybugs Smell Bad. Chemical & Engineering News. https://cen.acs.org/articles/85/web/2007/03/Ladybugs-Smell-Bad.html

    I do prattle on about the invasive common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis) on Vancouver and Denman Islands, and the recent appearance of one Italian wall lizard (P. siculus) in Vancouver, but to put things into perspective, only two lizard species have appeared here, and only one is established. Others from the pet trade, or arriving as contaminants in tropical plant shipments (e.g., bearded Dragon, brown anole, green iguana), represent individuals that escape and never get established. Tropical species will not survive our cool wet winters.

    Hawaii, by contrast, has more exotic lizard species than BC has reptiles. The common wall lizard pales by comparison to the Green Iguana.

    The books I have for Hawaii are out of date, but they will serve to express the magnitude of the problem posed by accidental import, accidental release from the pet trade, and intentional release in areas where exotic species will survive.

    Combined with records on iNaturalist, the lizards introduced to Hawaii include the green iguana, green anole, brown anole, knight anole, Jackson’s chamaeleon, mourning gecko, stump-toed gecko, Indo-Pacific slender gecko, common house gecko, Madagascar giant day gecko, orange-spotted day gecko, gold-dust day gecko, Tokay gecko, delicate garden skink, mottled snake-eyed skink, moth skink, copper-tailed skink and azure-tailed skink. Two species of horned lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum and P. coronatum) were released on Oahu, but failed to establish populations, and the azure-tailed skink probably is extirpated—an invasive ant may have caused its demise.

    The green anole, a common pet lizard. This one was in captivity.

    If we include species that died out, there are 20 species of lizard introduced to the Hawaiian Islands, with 7 species accidentally transported by Polynesians, and the rest more recently from the pet trade or as stow-aways in packing material. Only the yellow-bellied sea snake and sea turtles are native to the Hawaiian Islands, all other reptiles and amphibians were introduced by humans.

    A female common wall lizard in Saanich, Vancouver Island.

    I am sitting in my dining right now and looking out at the grey sky, knowing that it is 8 degrees Celsius outside. Tropical lizards have no chance on Vancouver Island, and so I am not alarmed at the annual wave of brown anoles that arrive as eggs in plant shipments from the USA. The lizard species that could survive here need to be able to withstand freezing temperatures. European lacertids, like the green lizard, western green lizard, Ibiza wall lizard, Dalmatian wall lizard and Italian wall lizard that at one time or another were established in the United States, and the viviparous lizard which appeared in Japan, are the only lizards that fit the profile. Perhaps the entire family should be prohibited from the pet trade in North America to limit the risk of introduction.

    The western fence lizard also is a species that could survive in BC—it may be in the Okanagan region already, as far north as Oliver—so keep your eyes peeled for these guys. They have also been introduced to the Puget Sound area in Washington and would do fine on southern Vancouver Island. These prickly lizards are common around human habitation. They have bright blue patches on their bellies and do push-ups as a territorial display—if you see one, let me know or tag it in iNaturalist.

    After picking up a range of starters at the local nursery, we are finally ready to plant the rest of the beds in the garden. A pumpkin starter arrived from the garden of Steve and Amy Lewis—they started a few too many mega-pumpkins—we were happy to get a seedling. Wasabi is the experimental plant for this year.

    Soil was turned over, manure mixed down a bit, and weeds were pulled in preparation for planting. One of the most invasive plants in our front garden is Calendula—ours has a gorgeous orange flower, but this flowering plant had overgrown a third of the front vegetable bed.

    Seeds arrived by mail, and we bought a range of peppers, some hotter than others—the scorpion pepper will be interesting.

    All our tomatoes went in, as did cabbages, and we have a few hundred New Zealand spinach plants poking up. Ladybird beetles are pupating and there are loads of adults, so let’s hope they keep busy dealing with aphids.

    New Zealand spinach (above) has an odd textured leaf and is not to everyone’s liking, but as it’s an edible weed, I am OK with it. Between New Zealand spinach, alexanders, kale, chives, oregano and leeks growing wild in the garden, we will always have some garden fresh food. The lettuce we bought as starters has overgrown its pot!

    Lizards are active and emerge by 08:30 as the sun hits the front garden. Two larger lizards seem to have replaced the three yearlings that were on the back fence, and our gravid female still has not laid eggs. Two lizards seem to have been attacked—tails were shortened—but that seems to be it for lizard drama in the last few weeks.

    Bewick’s wrens are nesting in our back yard, bushtits are stocking up on spider webs (and the cotton thread we use to tie up plants), crows are building nests, robins have hatched over a week ago, and Anna’s hummingbirds, chipping sparrows and house finches pop by regularly to liven up the garden.

    Now to set up the watering schedule and let nature do its thing.

     

    Light rain all day yesterday and the soil is nice and damp, but now warmed by today’s sun. Everything smells fresh and amazing. Lettuce starters are doing really well.

    Last year’s kale is in full bloom, ensuring we have kale year round with zero effort. Other flowers do their part to attract bees.

    Fruit trees flowering everywhere you turn. Blueberries soon will flower in the front yard.

    Strawberries in bloom, rhubarb growing nicely, the fennel is up, and red sorrel pops up where it wants.

    Rosemary attracts bees to the garden, while our raspberries and thorn-less blackberries send off many new leaves. Their flowers will soon appear. Oregano is everywhere in the raspberry bed.

    Forgotten onions are growing, others have been planted. Potatoes and carrots are planted. Free range chives, kale and chard is as luxuriant as ever.

     

    And our tomatoes—grown from seeds saved from last summer’s successes—are enjoying the sun on our south-facing deck.

    And the lizards are increasing in abundance. This one likely hatched out early last summer. I haven’t seen our gravid female in a few days—maybe she is digging a nest.

    Bewick’s wrens seem to have staked out territory and may nest here this summer. Chipping sparrows appear daily, as do American robins, dark-eyed juncos, chestnut-backed chickadees, house finches and our resident Anna’s hummingbirds.

    Turkey vultures and bald eagles soar in thermals. And Cooper’s hawks keep the smaller birds on edge.

    This city garden is alive.

    Not much has changed in the garden itself since late March. Some weeding has been done, and I am specifically targeting a few plants that produce seeds early. Purple Deadnettles are everywhere and the battle with them essentially is a Kobayashi Maru scenario.  Hairy Bittercress is another I target early since it catapults its seeds early in spring when the seed pods dry. Other than weeding and a bit of cleanup, we are now starting seeds indoors.

    Thyme, tomatoes, basil (the seeds were not faulty), cilantro and peas came up nicely.

    The arugula and cress are grown as “microgreens” to go directly into salads and sandwiches instead of into the garden. Growing microgreens is a year round thing for us—we have a small light stand with LEDs to start plants from seeds. We also have some flowering plants just for the flowers.

    Leftover potatoes and newly bought onions are getting planted this Eostre weekend.

    One of my favourite plants in the garden, however, is not something we eat. Mosses—mosses grow like mini forests and while some people power-wash the moss away, I like moss. I wish lawns were entirely made of mosses. Moss is soft on the feet, requires no mowing or maintenance or fertilizer, there is no need for aeration, and it makes plenty of habitat for tardigrades. I may never see a tardigrade in my garden, but I hope they are there and thriving. Since they can survive exposure to outer space, my garden likely is a tardigrade-happy place.

    I remember the lifecycle of mosses from my time as a teaching assistant in Intro Biology (course # 71.125) at the University of Manitoba. Moss plants—more specifically, the haploid gameteophyte (gamete producing plant)—we are used to seeing come in a male and female form. The female and male gametophytes produce gametes—egg cells and sperm cells respectively. When water splashes on the male plant, some sperm splashes on top of the female plant, and fertilization of the egg cell occurs. Fertilization of an egg (syngamy) merges each haploid copy of the species genes into one cell (the zygote) which continues to grow with its diploid gene complement.

    The sporophyte (or spore producing plant) is the next stage of the plant which grows as a stalk out of the top of the female gametophyte. The stalk elongates and develops a pod (known as a sporangium) at the tip where haploid spores are produced by meiosis. Those haploid spores are released and produce the next generation of haploid male and female gametophytes. This is my memory of the basic moss lifecycle—not bad considering I last taught intro biology labs in the early 1990s.

    And I will end this Printemps-post with a gratuitous photo of one of our Common Wall Lizards, one of four (possibly five) which have taken up residence in the front garden. They were basking in the sun at 08:30 this morning.

    The properties on which our legislative buildings are now located in Victoria Harbour are within the traditional territory of the Lekwungen First Nations, today represented by the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations. There is clear evidence in the form of written documents and maps that James Douglas intended this property to become an Indigenous Reserve as part of the treaty settlements of 1850. (See Appendix 1: The Paper Reserve.)

    The legislative property is shown on this 1862 map to the left of lot VI belonging to James Douglas. It is located at the southern foot of the James Bay Bridge. (BC Archives 11520A. Part of Beckley Farm No.4.)

    The Lekwungen people were rightfully compensated, in November of 2006, with an out of court settlement for the failure of this property to become a modern First Nations reserve. There is no evidence of any agreement being made in the nineteenth century to dispose of this proposed reserve with any Lekwungen peoples.

    This is a case where, in my opinion, compensation would not need to be predicated on the Lekwungen ever having a village on the property. There is, in fact, no archaeological evidence that there was a pre-contact village on this property. (See Appendix 2: Archaeological Observations in the Legislative Building Precinct and Along the Adjacent Waterfront 1972–2019. )

    Courtesy of the American Library of Congress. #2005680426, No.2.

    Homestead of Montreuil on what became the legislative Grounds, 1858. Buildings owned by non-Indigenous peoples seen to the right of this image on the larger panorama are west of the legislative property. Courtesy of the American Library of Congress. #2005680426, No.2. 

    A Historic Overview of the Legislative Property

    Here I will examine the nature of some of the early historic documentation regarding the legislative property. 

    There are no Hudson Bay company records or accounts of military, religious or other visitors to Victoria Harbour in the 1840s to early 1850s that pertain to Lekwungen people living in a village at the location intended to be a future “Indian Reserve” shown on the 1854 map The historic Inner Harbour village was located a few blocks further west, near Laurel Point. This village was one that was co-occupied by local Xwsepsum treaty people and their Clallam relatives from the American side of the Straits of Juan de Fuca for a short period of time about 1847–1855.  

    I would propose that the historic village sometimes being referred to as being “near”, “in front of” or “on” the legislative property was in fact at the latter location, near Laurel Point. (See Appendix 3: The Location of the Historic Village of the Xwsepsum and Klallum.)

    Here I will present some observations in regard to the earlier use of the property around the legislative buildings. There is no archaeological evidence of a shellmidden that would represent the remains of a village site at this location. Direct accounts that observe local First Nations occupying this site area are lacking.  

    Dorothy Kennedy has provided a detailed analysis of the ethnographic literature pertaining to the locations in Victoria Harbour and the Gorge Waterway of  the Kosampson and other Lekwungen peoples (Kennedy 2006:57-64 & 70-86). I refer to this and add my own opinions in Appendix 4: Lekwungen Winter Villages and Seasonal Movements. 

    Historic Observations: Who Occupied Buildings on the Legislative Property?

    An 1851 map (HBCA G.1/131 [N8362]) of surveyor Joseph Pemberton includes the area that was to become the legislative precinct. On this map are five small buildings marked in red. One small square dwelling in red is  located near the northwest corner of James Douglas’s property, and four more small square dwellings marked in red are in a line continuing on the property to the west along the waterfront—which later became the location of the Parliament buildings.

    Portion of Pemberton Map showing the legislative precinct area (G.1/131 [N8362]). All houses are coloured in red.

    These buildings only appear together on this one map. The map was most likely created from information collected by surveys undertaken in the late spring to early summer of 1851. The one building on Douglas’s property is also located on a map dating 1852 from information collected in the late fall of 1851. These small buildings were most likely occupied by Indigenous and/or non-Indigenous persons working for James Douglas during a period of intense building on his property between late 1850 and the summer of 1851.  

    In regard to the James Bay “Indian Reserve”, William Tolmie’s letter to Thomas Fraser of June 24, 1865 states: “That the piece of Land in question was ever in any sense an Indian reserve has from the first – been disputed by the company’s Officers, resident here, since the foundation of the Colony. – Indians of various Tribes sometimes employed by the Governor, and on other occasions by the Company, were allowed to reside on it at times under the surveillance of a half-breed (Montreuil) who lived on the spot in a small cottage said by Tiedmann to have been claimed by the Governor and to have been, with another small house on this Reserve, by him transferred to the Colony in 1859 for the sum of $200.” (Tolmie, William J. Letter of June 24th, 1865; HBCA A.11/80 f.148-169d)

    The James Douglas Property

    On January 13, 1849, a Charter of Grant awarded Vancouver Island to the Hudson’s Bay Company for “the advancement of colonization and encouragement of trade and commerce”. The main condition was to establish “a settlement or settlements of resident colonists” by 1854. Revenues from land sales were to go mostly for the construction of public schools, buildings, roads and bridges.

    Douglas and other Hudson’s Bay company employees now had the opportunity to acquire land that had previously been denied to them, as the purchase was seen as being in conflict with company business. 

    On December 10, 1849, James Douglas applied to Archibald Barclay to acquire land for himself. He showed the letter of application that month to Eden Colvile.  He wrote to Hargrave on January 17, 1850: “I am thinking of making a purchase of land on Vancouver’s Island…more as a speculation than with any serious intentions of settling. Yet there is no saying what in the chapter of accidents may come to pass.” (Letter to Archibald Barclay, Secretary to the H.B. Co. Governor and Committee. Eden Colville’s Letters. 1849-52. The Publications of the Hudson’s Bay Record Society XIX. Edited by E.E. Rich, 1956).  Douglas was unhappy with the small dividend from the HBC and seemed to consider quitting his job. He said to A.C. Anderson on October 28, 1850: “I hope the next [dividend] will be more respectable – or the sooner we cut and run the better.” (Fort Victoria, Correspondence Outward, 1850-1858, PABC)

    According to Roderick Finlayson, it was Douglas who convinced the governor and committee of the HBC to open the fur trade reserve for public sale, with the exception of 1212 acres containing part of downtown Victoria and Beckley Farm. (Finlayson, Autobiography of Roderick Finlayson, ms, PABC; Rich, The Hudson’s Bay Company, vol. 3:763)

    Douglas acquired his property indenture on Dec. 15, 1851. (Map – Victoria District, Lot No. 1, Section VI, James Bay by Joseph Despard Pemberton, 1851, HBC Archives H.1/1 fo.4)  In late 1850 Douglas also applied to acquire what became the 300 acre estate called Fairfield. (Victoria District. Section 1, Lot no.2, HBCA H.1/1 folio 6)

     

    James Douglas’s property to the east of the later legislative property, 1859. Courtesy of the American Library of Congress. #2005680426 – No 1.

    Building Activity

    On September 1 of 1850, James Douglas was—on his own property—in the process of “putting up a dwelling House with the aid of three of the Company’s servants, whose board and wages will be charged to my private account, for the time I employ them, and a party of native labourers, who promise to become useful as rough carpenters.” Douglas also acquired his 10 acres at Rosebank in Esquimalt harbour at this time. (Douglas to Barclay, Fort Victoria Letters, p. 115)

    Douglas had the foundation of his house finished in January of 1851. On January 23, he wrote Hargrave: “I have lately purchased a bit of land in this neighbourhood…and have laid the foundation of the first private house in the town of Victoria. This will of course cost me a good deal of money, but then it will be a refuge in time of need, and eventually repay the original outlay with interest.” (Hargrave papers, NAC). On July 1, 1851 Rear Admiral and Commander-in-Chief Fairfax Moresby reported to the Secretary of the Admiralty that “Douglas has a commodious dwelling, nearly completed, on his farm, near the Fort, and a farm house on the inland limit.” (BC Archives GR332, Vol. 1:335-41)

    By April of the same year, while his own 10 acres were “under improvement” (Douglas to Barkley, Victoria Letters, p. 176), Douglas started a vigorous building program on the HBC company property. He employed “100 Indians” in clearing brush and trees and began “putting up buildings about the Fort, having a dwelling House, and a Flour Mill in progress,”  erecting a hospital and having plans to erect buildings “for religious and educational purposes.” (Letter of April 16, Douglas to Barkley, Fort Victoria Letters, pp. 170-172). 

    The five houses on Pemberton’s 1851 (G.1/131; N8362) map (one on and four west of the Douglas property) would have been placed on the map by Pemberton during the spring to early summer of 1851 by which time he had finished most of the Victoria harbour area work. On August 5, 1851, Douglas reported to Archibald Barclay that “Mr. Pemberton is actively employed, in the survey of the Fur trade Reserve, and the Victoria District generally. The day after tomorrow he will proceed toward Esquimalt.…He expects to complete the Victoria District in about 3 weeks hence, when he will forward a pretty complete sketch.” (Fort Victoria Letters 1846-1851. Publications of Hudson’s Bay Record Society XXXII, Editor Hartwell Bowsfield, Hudson’s Bay record Society, 1979, p.206) Pemberton’s report, dated September 11, was sent by Douglas with an accompanying map on October 6, 1851 (Bowsfield 1979:218).

    The original map could not be located in the HBC archives (see Bowsfield 1979, footnote 2, p. 218). Ruggles, in his detailed study of all the Hudson’s bay Company maps, concludes that a map in the Land Title & Survey Authority of British Columbia “is likely the original manuscript topographic map.” This map, titled “Victoria District & Part of Esquimalt,” is located in Maps and Plans Vault L, Locker 5, given numbers 108577 and 108578. The map does not show houses on the property west of the Douglas Property. 

    Ruggles considers the Pemberton 1851 map—“Victoria & Puget Sound Districts Sheet No.1, HBC map G.1/131, N8362 (that shows the above mentioned buildings marked in red)—and two others (G.1/132 & G.1/133) to be “tracings or copies” of this original. (Ruggles, Richard I. A Country so Interesting: The Hudson’s Bay Company and Two Centuries of Mapping, 1670-1870. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1991, pp. 100; footnote 12, p. 284)

    If G.1/131 is a tracing of the original, it would appear that the one square building structure on the Douglas property and the four structures on the adjacent property were added from information collected in the spring or early summer of 1851. Four of the houses are gone by the end of 1851. Pemberton’s 1852 map (HBCA G1/258a) shows only one red square on Douglas’s property and none on the adjacent property to the west.

    By the end of 1851 when Douglas’s house was nearly complete these five houses appear to have been gone – and therefore not marked by Pemberton’s detailed 1852 map of the local area. (A Plan of the town of Victoria Shewing Proposed Improvements, HBCA Map Collection, G.2/38 [T13107] Hudson’s Bay Company Archives Provincial Archives of Manitoba)

    The ground survey for the 1852 town of Victoria map would have been started in the late fall of 1851. Douglas reports to Barclay on December 9 of 1851 that Pemberton is “now completing the survey and preparing a plan of the town site of Victoria.” (Bowsfield p. 239)

    The row of five buildings marked in red are not shown on any maps predating 1851. They are not marked on the 1850 “Map of the Victoria District, Vancouver’s Island” by Walter Colquhoun Grant (HBC Archives Map Collection, G.1/256) or on any of the earlier Admiralty Surveys of the Victoria Harbour area.

    It was noted on September 11,1855,  that “Mr. Douglas has built a house and taken 20 acres of land in the most desirable spot and has reserved for purchase 200 acres more adjoining it.” (H.W. Bruce [at sea on HMS Monarch] to Ralph Osborne, GR332, Vol. 2: 248.)

    Much later, Edgar Fawcett, in his reminiscences (1912:86-87), observed:

    “Before the road opposite the Government grounds, which is now Belleville Street, was reclaimed from the sea, [*this was only the area of the slight bay near the N.E. corner of the legislature grounds] there was an Indian trail which ran through the woods, From Laing’s Ways, [*today known as Fisherman’s Wharf area] in the direction of town along the water-front, around the head of the bay to Humboldt Street. I might say that the plat [*plot] of ground on which the Government buildings were built in 1859 was bought from a French-Canadian who came overland form Montreal, and although in the service of the Hudson’s Bay company for years either could not or would not speak a word of English other than ‘yes’ and ‘no’. He built his house here and lived here until he sold out to the Government, the house being afterwards used as a Government tool house.

    Mr. Harry Glide, from whom I got these particulars, is a pioneer of 1856, and lived near the outer wharf. He married a daughter of Mr. Laing. He says all James Bay from the bridge to the mouth of the harbour was covered with pine trees, [this would be true of the southern half of what is now the community of James Bay, where the dominant species was Douglas fir. Garry Oak communities and open parklands and swampy areas existed to the north] and all this land, together with that facing Dallas Road up to Beacon Hill, was called Beckly Farm. The greater part of all these trees were cut down for Kavaunah [*died in Victoria on November 21, 1891 at age 60. Registration number 1891-09-007565], a man whom many will remember as having a woodyard about where the James Bay Athletic Association now stands.” (*See B.C. Archives G-02827 and C-09028)  


    Appendix 1

    On August 26, 1854, James Douglas sent a letter to Archibald Barclay of the Hudson’s Bay Company: 

    “I herewith transmit a letter from Mr. Pemberton, with a tracing of an Indian Reserve, which has been accidentally omitted in Lot No. 24, Section XVIII, though reserved to them, on the general sale of their lands; they have since offered it to me for sale, but as the cost may be considerable, and I do not want the land for my own use, I declined their offer though I should have no objections to purchase it in part, if the company will take the remainder of the lot. I will probably make some arrangement with the Indians if they dispose of it, on reasonable terms, particularly if any other party should be tampering for the purchase of their rights.”

    Although the treaty of 1850 for this area was made with the Swengwhung family of the Lekwungen people, there is no mention by Douglas of which Indigenous peoples he talked to regarding the land. But we can conclude that it was obviously “reserved” for some or all Lekwungen people “on the general sale of their lands.” (Douglas to Barclay A/C/20/Vi2A, P. 222)

    Appendix 2

    Archaeological Observations in the Legislative Building Precinct and Along the Adjacent Waterfront 1972–2019

    For 48 years, my office windows at the Royal BC Museum overlooked the legislative precinct. In examining the question of whether there was once a village or season camp site on the location of the present legislative buildings, I have, over this period of 48 years, observed and examined numerous trenches and holes being dug on and all around the Legislative property.

    This has included such activities as water, sewer and gas pipe installation and repair along Belleville, Government and Menzies Streets; the excavations in the repair and rebuilding of the sidewalk and walls along the waterfront on the north side of Belleville in front of the legislative grounds; the installing of the underground sprinkler system in the legislative lawns; and underground repairs related to the driveway, sidewalks, fountain and War Memorial on the legislative property. I also observed many smaller hole excavations involving tree removal and planting and the installation of the totem pole.  

    I have looked carefully for any evidence that the location was once the site of a village or seasonal camp site, as I have done in many other parts of the city. Archaeological shellmiddens are common on bays and inlets in greater Victoria. These locations always have some evidence of discarded shellfish remains, fire-altered rocks, bones, charcoal rich soil and other materials. Even where serious damage has occurred to many shellmiddens around Victoria there is always evidence of fragmentary scattered remains. None of this material evidence has ever been observed around the Legislative precinct. I can only conclude that this location was never occupied as a village or seasonal camp site.

    The fact that the area near the old shoreline along Belleville Street was built up with soil rather than having soil removed would make it more likely than shellmidden material from any old village site should be easier to find in modern excavations in the area. When the original legislative buildings were constructed and Belleville Street was being constructed, a wooden wall (see photograph) was built at the edge of the bank and large amounts of fill brought for the road construction.

    The location of the legislative buildings would not be a favourable location for a village site, as it lies on what was once (and still is in some locations) a very rocky shoreline, not conducive to the easy in-and-out movement of canoes. Exceptions are locations that could serve as defensive locations, these being best placed on a high peninsula that can be fortified from enemy attack and from which one can see enemies approaching. 

    The three known ancient sites in Victoria’s Inner Harbour, which starts at Shoal Point, are all on steeper rock bluffs. One of these, DcRu-123, located at Lime Point on the north side of the harbour, is a known defensive site that once had a trench embankment across its back end. The others, DcRu-33 and DcRu-116 are located on Raymurs Point near Fisherman’s Wharf and on the bedrock bluffs around the Capital Iron building near the intersection of Store and Chatham Streets.

    Further, there are no water sources on the legislative property. Villages are usually adjacent to a freshwater stream.

    Excavations around the Steamship building From March 14, 2017, to February 18, 2018.
    Keddie photographs.

     

    Excavations  along the south side of the Blackball Ferry terminal, February 2016.
    Keddie photographs.

    Excavations along shoreline, February 2016 to June 2018.
    Keddie photographs.

    Excavations along Government Street and near Belleville Street.
    Keddie photographs.

    Excavation of legislative grounds driveway.
    Keddie photographs.

     

    Appendix 3

    The Location of the Historic Village of the Xwsepsum and Klallam

    James Teit, working with Klallam Nation consultants of Washington State in 1907-10, was told there was “a village of them formerly in Victoria” and that “they were closely related to the Songhish” (Teit 1910).  Henry Charles, the Beecher Bay Klallam consultant of anthropologist Wayne Suttles, told him in the 1950s that “Scaqe’nam, a chief from Port Angeles, moved over to Victoria when the whites came, in order to make shingles and plant potatoes for them.” (Suttles 1974:11) This community would be the “Clallam Village” referred to by the editor of the Weekly Victoria Gazette on August 28, 1858. It was located in the community of James Bay, west of the legislative buildings and just to the east of Laurel Point. It was occupied about 1847 to 1855.

    Figure 1. Modern location of mid nineteenth century Klallam/Xwsepsum village along the shore near the centre of this photograph.

    Figure 2. Looking across the narrowing in Victoria’s Inner Harbour to the enlarged Laurel Point at the centre.

    Laurel Point was half its current width in the nineteenth century. The location of the historic Xwsepsum/Klallam village is on the far upper left to the east of Laurel Point. Songhees Point is at the centre in the foreground and was once part of the Old Songhees Reserve.  Grant Keddie photograph.

    This village included Klallam people from the Olympic Peninsula, and some of the Sapsom or Kosampson (Xwesepsum) people of the 1850 Douglas Treaties. The Klallam may have lived here by right of intermarriage with the Xwesepsum, or, after the Klallam moved here from the Port Angeles area, the Xwesepsum may have joined them at the locality from a village in Esquimalt harbour.  This was a short-term historic village. There is no evidence of a village site being here before the late 1840s. There were no occupied village sites observed in Victoria’s Inner Harbour until after the building of Fort Victoria in 1843. For further information on the context of this article see Keddie (2003).

    Figure 3. Rectangular outlines of what are most likely abandoned plank houses or long houses can be seen on this portion of an 1855 map (AGBC640445). The insides of the outlines are blackened for visibility. This location is east of Laurel Point and west of Oswego Street in the community of James Bay.

    In 1905, anthropologist Charles Hill-Tout collected information from Lekwungen people (the Songhees and Esquimalt of the Victoria region) who lived on or had close family ties to the Esquimalt Reserve located in Esquimalt Harbour. Hill-Tout’s interpretation of the information indicated that James Douglas had “also transplanted the village of the Qsapsem [Kosampson], who dwelt near the spot where the Parliament Buildings now stand.”

    One of the people that Hill-Tout received his information from was “the wife of Tom James.” She was called Sitlamitza, or Mary Anne James. She was a part of at least one family of Xwesepsum people that lived in the “Clallam” village on the shore to the west of the legislative buildings. Sitlamitza was born in this village around 1847 to 1850. But as she left when only one or two years old, she would not have any personal memory of this location. She would have had the place of her birth explained to her by others, years later. 

    In 1912, William Roberts, a Songhees Band councillor, stated that Mary Anne James “belongs to Saanich Arm [Upper Gorge] and is of the Sapsam [Xwesepsum] tribe, which is not Songhees” [i.e., not among the people that made up the Songhees Reserve]. A response came from Reverend C. M. Tate, who had worked among the Lekwungen since 1873, and was an advocate for the James family who went to his church:

    “The home of the Sapsams was Victoria harbor, and their village stood in front of where the parliament buildings now stand. The home of the Songhees was at Albert Head, from which place they moved to Victoria harbor when the Hudson’s Bay Company built their fort.”  This is a very oversimplified version of Lekwungen history (see Duff 1969). 

    A notarized statement by Mary Anne James was dated January 10, 1912. It is not know who assisted her in writing this, but it was likely Reverend Tate. It stated in part:

    “That my Indian name is Sitlamitza. That I was born in my father’s house in front of where the present parliament buildings now stand. That my mother died in giving birth to me, and my father was killed when I was a baby. That my uncle, Chief Seesinak [“Say-sinaka” was the 5th person on the Kosampson treaty list of 1850; his grandson Joe Sinopen, born 1863, and his son Edward Joe, born 1885, were both former chiefs of the Esquimalt band], adopted me.  That when Sir James Douglas moved the Indians to the reserve across the bay, my uncle asked for a place at Esquimalt. That my younger days were spent between Victoria, with my aunt, Seesinak’s sister, and Esquimalt.”

    It is uncertain if this comment about the movement “to the reserve across the bay” refers to the 1844 movement of peoples camped in the Johnson Street Ravine area or that some of the people living in the historic village near Laurel Point moved across to the Old Songhees Reserve. If it does refer to the former, James Douglas did not move the Songhees to the Old Songhees Reserve, as he did not take charge of the Fort until he moved here in 1849.  Roderick Finlayson was the person who arranged for some of the Songhees to move to the west side of Victoria Harbour from their temporary camps.  

    Mary Anne James indicates that she later lived on both the Old Songhees Reserve in Victoria harbour and the Esquimalt Reserve in Esquimalt Harbour. It is likely that Mary Anne’s mother’s family, father’s family, or both, originally came from Esquimalt harbour to join the Klallam village after the founding of Fort Victoria. This may have been a result of previous marriage relations with the Klallam: Mary Anne’s nephew Chief Edward Joe of the Esquimalt Reserve had a grandfather named Skekanim who was from Port Angeles. Later, when treaty negotiations began in 1850, Mary Anne’s uncle “Say-sinaka” may have asked at that time for a reserve in one of their old Xwesepsum village sites back in Esquimalt harbour. It is likely that the family had maintained a seasonal occupation of the upper Esquimalt Harbour area during their stay at the “Klallam” village or stayed with relatives who continued to live there. 

    Hill-Tout himself says that before the fort was built, the Xwesepsum lived “on the Gorge.” James Deans, who came to the Craigflower area in 1852, was told that their village was on the Gorge at what is now Kosampson Park.

    Outlines of the location of four houses at the site of the Klallam/Xwesepsum village can be seen in Figure 3. The map shows new surveyed lots several blocks west of the 10 acre “Indian Reserve” land that was to become the site of the Legislative buildings. The map shows four elongated houses with lot boundaries cutting through two of them, suggesting they were abandoned by this time. Three houses span Lots 513-15, and one house spans lots 516-17. This location today is along the waterfront in the area of Oswego and Pendray Streets at the S.E. corner of Laurel Point. 

    Figure 4. I placed stars on this later map opposite the lots with the house outlines in the 1855 map. This shows the location of the lots in figure 3, in relation to existing streets and the Legislative buildings at right.

    The Klallam village was located “near” the parliament buildings, according to Charles Hill-Tout. It appears that Reverend Tate changed the story to “in front of” the legislative buildings. 

    The subject of which Lekwungen families occupied the area around Victoria Harbour and whether there was a village at the site of the legislative buildings is a subject of debate (see Kennedy and Bouchard  2006:57-64). 

    Figure 5. Modern location of the old shoreline where the historic Klallam/Xwesepsum village was located off Belleville Street on the south side of Victoria Harbour. Grant Keddie photograph.

    Figure 6. The historic Xwesepsum/Klallam village location from across the harbor. It is to the left of Laurel Point which is located on the right of the photograph. Grant Keddie photograph.

    Figure 7. The historic village was located along the shore on the left half of this image. July 13, 2017. Grant Keddie photograph.

    Appendix 4

    Lekwungen Winter Villages and Seasonal Movements

    Songhees band members Jimmy Fraser, Sophie Misheal and Ned Williams identified Swengwhung as the people who formerly lived along the Gorge above the Tillicum Road Bridge (Duff 1969:35). This group had houses at the bay inside Gorge-Kinsmen Park. This is the known location of a shellmidden, archaeological site DcRu-5. Jimmy Fraser noted that one woman remained alive whose mother had lived in this village. If the living women was about 80 years old in 1950, we can speculate that there was at least one house that her mother lived in at this location before about 1870. Fraser indicated that most houses were located just west of the bridge at locations recorded as archaeological shellmidden sites DcRu-112 and DcRu-7. The former contains only a light scatter or shellmidden and was likely only occupied for a short time. The latter is a large shellmidden dating back at least 1,500 years based on the artifacts found there and radiocarbon dating (around 1,000 years).

    Edward Joe of Esquimalt, and his father Chief Joe Sinopen before him, considered the Swengwhung peoples to be part of the general migration of Songhees into the Inner Harbour after the founding of Fort Victoria (Duff 1996:35; Hill-Tout 1907:307). Edward Joe said that the Xwesepsum owned the entire Gorge and Inner Harbour (Duff 1969:35).

    Hill-Tout recorded that the Xwesepsum village before the time of the fort was on the Gorge. This was located at Kosampson Park at the location of the old Criagflower school house. This is a large shellmidden recorded as archaeological site DcRu-4. James Deans also noted that the Esquimalt came from this location in the not-too-distant past (Macfie, 1865). 

    Anthropologist Dorothy Kennedy pointed out that Suttles discussions with Cecelia Joe at the Esquimalt Indian Reserve in 1952 had raised the idea that some of Hill-Tout’s villages might not be winter villages, but rather sites that were occupied at other seasons, a practice common among the Coast Salish. (Kennedy 2006:31). Kennedy indicates that

    “The ethnographic literature presents several scenarios of how Lekwungen local groups may have occupied southern Vancouver Island. According to Cecelia Joe, …the Lekwungen winter villages were all situated around Victoria Harbour. This included the sc̉áηcs people, otherwise found near Albert Head, and certainly the village of Mrs. Joe’s husband’s people, the Kosapsum (the “Kosampsom” of the 1850 treaty), who reportedly spent the winter where the Parliament Buildings now stands, and according to Mrs. Joe, owned the Gorge and Esquimalt Harbour. Mrs. Joe also reported that the Lekwungen people of Cadboro Bay had a winter location at Parson’s Bridge, in Esquimalt Harbour, and that the Discovery Island people had a winter site at Rose Bank (inside Dunns Nook on Esquimalt Harbour’s west shore). …Still, in the winter, according to Cecelia Joe, the Lekwungen could be found in Victoria Harbour where, out of the wind, they built dance houses for their winter ceremonials and, in nice weather, fished the winter runs of spring salmon found offshore.” (Kennedy 2006:32)

    Not all Lekwungen consultants agreed with Cecelia Joe’s designation of Victoria Harbour as the Lekwungen’s winter quarters. David Latess (also spelled Latesse, who was of Lekwungen ancestry) told anthropologist Diamond Jenness that the old summer home of the main body of the Songhees was at Xthapsin [xwsέpscm, anglicised as “Kosapsum” or “Kosampsom”], just above the Gorge, and that their winter home was at Cadboro Bay. While it is unclear what is meant by the main body of the tribe, Latesse’s account clearly recognizes that the same people (the Songhees) used both a site on the Gorge and in Cadboro Bay, areas sometimes named in association with specific Lekwungen local groups, …Moreover, Sophie Misheal and Ned Williams divided the Gorge, not Victoria’s inner harbour, into sites occupied by distinct local groups, noting with respect to the “lck’wcŋcn”  they come in here during winter, with reference to the area from Gorge Bridge to Songhees Point, while the Swengwhung and Kosapsum people, according to them, wintered at sites farther up the Gorge. Though the notes are cryptic, they do indicate more movement within the Lekwungen territory than reflected by the rigid divisions of land ownership set out in the treaties. These above-noted aboriginal elders offered different perspectives on the season of occupation and the precise local group’s association with sites located on the protected waters – Victoria and Esquimalt harbours and the Gorge—yet there was a recognition that named groups of people used a variety of sites associated with the general Lekwungen territory”. (Kennedy 2006:33)

    Wilson Duff, based on his interviews with these Songhees Band members, along with accounts he received from Edward and Cecelia Joe of Esquimalt, suggested that both the Xwesepsum and Swengwhung groups formerly wintered up the Gorge, and that both groups were living in the Inner Harbour area at the time of the treaties in 1850, the Xwesepsum likely on the James Bay Reserve site and the Swengwhung at the new Songhees Point village across from the fort. (Kennedy 2006:35)

    My opinion would be that Cecelia Joe, who had no personal experience on the Old Songhees, could have been making reference to the early historic activities on the Old Songhees first occupied in 1844 and these activities did not pertain to pre-contact practices.  An alternate explanation could be confusion regarding the perception of the term “Victoria Harbour,” which may have included what today we call the Gorge Waterway. The winter villages referred to by Cecelia Joe were likely further up the Gorge waterway, which was included in the term “Victoria Harbour”.


    References:

    Bowsfield,  Hartwell (ed).  1979. Fort Victoria Letters 1846-1851. Publications of Hudson’s Bay Record Society XXXII, Hudson’s Bay record Society, 1979, p.206).
    Douglas to Barclay. Royal B.C. Museum Archives A/C/20/Vi2A, P. 222
    Fawcett, Edgar.  1912. Some Reminiscences of Old Victoria. Toronto. William Brigs.
    Finlayson,  Roderick. (c.1891). Autobiography of Roderick Finlayson, ms, PABC.
    Hill-Tout, Charles.  1907. Report on the ethnology of the southeastern tribes of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. vol. 37: 306-374.
    Keddie, Grant. 2003. Songhees Pictorial. A History of the Songhees People as seen by Outsiders, 1790-1912. Royal B.C. Museum, Victoria.
    Kennedy, Dorothy.  2006. ABORIGINAL AFFILIATION OF THE JAMES BAY RESERVE. Final Report. Prepared for: Greg McDade, Q.C., Ratcliff & Co. North Vancouver, BC. Counsel for the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations. Prepared by: Dorothy Kennedy, M.A., D.Phil. Bouchard & Kennedy Research Consultants. Victoria, BC, April 17th, 2006.
    Kennedy, Dorothy and Randy Bouchard. 1995. An Examination of Esquimalt History and Territory: A Discussion Paper. Prepared for: the Esquimalt Nation. B.C. Indian Language Project, Victoria, B.C., July 29th, 1995.
    Rich, E.E. (ed)  1956. Letter to Archibald Barclay, Secretary to the H.B. Co. Governor and Committee. Eden Colville’s Letters. 1849-52. The Publications of the Hudson’s Bay Record Society XIX.
    Rich, E.E.  1960. The Hudson’s Bay Company 1670-1870. McCllelland and Stewart, Toronto, Vol. 3:763.
    Ruggles, Richard I.  1991. A Country So Interesting: The Hudson’s Bay Company and Two Centuries of Mapping, 1670-1870. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
    Suttles, Wayne.  1974. Coast Salish and Western Washington Indians 1. The Economic Life of the Coast Salish of Haro and Rosario Straits. Garland Publishing Inc. New York.
    Teit, James A. 1910. Salish Tribal Names and Distribution. June 10, 1910. Unpublished Manuscript in the Files of Franz Boas. American Philisophical Library. (Film 372, Roll 15) [RBCM Archives Additional Manuscript 1425, Reel A 246].
    Tolmie, William J.  Letter of June 24, 1865; HBCA A.11/80 f.148-169d.

    ROBB BENNETT, CLAUDIA COPLEY, DARREN COPLEY

    Abstract

    Apostenus ducati sp. nov. is described from montane areas in or adjacent to the Columbia River Basin of southeastern British Columbia in Canada and northern Washington and northwestern Montana in the United States. This is the second Nearctic species of this primarily Palaearctic genus. Unlike most liocranids, A. ducati apparently is restricted to open rocky habitats, such as talus and scree slopes, and on mountain peaks. Throughout most of its range, specimens occur in low numbers and populations are patchily distributed. Also, populations appear to be concentrated in the upper regions of the Flathead River watershed in British Columbia, an area of significant and competing ecological and economic values. Because of these factors, A. ducati is potentially a species of conservation concern.

    Keywords

    Spiders, taxonomy, Flathead, conservation, Columbia River Basin

    See full article 

    When a trawl net goes down to the sea floor, you have no idea what will appear when the net is hauled to the surface. Some fish are caught as the net descends, others as the net ascends, but most are caught at the target depth. One thing is for certain, trawl nets sample very specific habitat – open smooth substrates where the net is unlikely to snag.

    Since we don’t drag nets over rocky habitat, that habitat is poorly known. You’d think that in the dark depths, substrate wouldn’t matter – but apparently it does. And you’d think we’d already know whether a fish the size of a coffee table inhabited our waters. Not so. Since 2005, we have discovered three new skates in BC, and you guessed it, one was the size of a coffee table. The first Angel Shark for British Columbia was discovered in 2016, and captured on camera, not a net.

    The Pacific White Skate (Bathyraja spinosissima) was caught in a trawl net by accident. From footage from submersibles, we know this species cruises about 1 m above rocky habitat. The single specimen caught in 2005 had strayed over net friendly habitat. When this skate was caught, we were unable to assign it to species. Its DNA suggested it was a species from the Atlantic. After a careful measurements, we determined it was a Pacific White Skate, and its discovery was published by Orr et al. (2019).

    Bathyraja spinosissima (Pacific White Skate) – this specimen was the first to be included in DNA barcoding which gave us strange results when the tissues were originally sequenced. This large male is the first adult male in museum collections, a first from BC, and extended the known range north from Oregon.

    Orr et al. (2019) also listed a second new skate species for BC, the Five-spined Skate (Bathyraja microtrachys). Five males were collected west of Tofino, off Vancouver Island in 2005. These are the only adult males known for this species.

    Bathyraja microtrachys (Five-spined Skate) – originally thought to range from Washington south to San Diego, we now known they range into Canadian waters.

    In 2009, a third skate species was discovered, the Commander Skate (Bathyraja lindberi), and was published by King et al. (2019). This is a northern skate, and the discovery in British Columbia extends the species’ range south about 600 km.

    Bathyraja lindberi (Commander Skate) – appeared in 2009, and now is known from the Sea of Okhotsk, the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands, south to Queen Charlotte Sound.

    Finally, in 2016, a Pacific Angel Shark (Squatina californica) was spotted and photographed by Mark Cantwell while diving off Clover Point, Victoria. The photograph was proof enough of the species’ presence (King and Surry 2016). Since this species was known from a single specimen in Alaska, one from Puget Sound in Washington, and exists south to the Gulf of California, its discovery in British Columbia was only a matter of time. More details on the Angel Shark can be found in Pietsch and Orr’s (2019) magnum opus on Fishes of the Salish Sea.

    Squatina californica (Pacific Angel Shark) – was is known from one specimen in Puget Sound, Washington and an old record from Alaska, and finally has been confirmed for British Columbia. Photograph by Mark Cantwell, April 30, 2016 off Clover Point, Victoria, Vancouver Island.

    For more details on all cartilaginous fishes in British Columbia, buy the latest RBCM handbook by King and McFarlane due out May 2020.

    Non-game fishes receive little attention and of these, the deep sea anglerfishes (Families Oneirodidae, Melanocetidae and Ceratiidae), are among the poorest known. Deep sea anglers live at extreme depths and few people study them.

    Alive they are quite elegant with black-brown skin, flowing fins and globular bodies. But when hauled to the ocean surface and preserved in museum collections they tend to resemble shrivelled hockey pucks – with teeth. Most of what we know about these fishes is based on the females. Males are minute but have enlarged olfactory chambers. Males have one goal – to find and latch onto a female. Once attached, males draw nutrition from the female’s bloodstream. Sometimes more than one male attaches to a female, and they are in place ready to mate whenever a female is ready to release eggs. Some have said this relationship is parasitic, and while males do derive nourishment from the female, they fertilize a female’s eggs. In contrast, a parasitic relationships is one-sided. Perhaps the only time the relationship is parasitic is when a male attaches to a female of a different species – he draws nourishment, but provides no genetic contribution.

    Because these fishes rarely reach the surface in good shape (trawl nets are not forgiving to soft-skinned fishes), many deep sea anglers are difficult to identify. Identification often is based on the structure and shape of tip of the lure – a structure called the esca – which sits at the tip of the first ray of the dorsal fin. If that delicate structure is lost, identification can be difficult without DNA barcoding. With DNA barcoding, we can identify species based on unique genetic sequences taken from tissue samples. One of the fishes photographed in this article, Oneirodes thompsoni, had been sampled for DNA barcoding to get a representative sequence for this species. The white tag with a code number is attached to the fish so that the fish and its genetic sequences can be matched later.

    Until the paper by Weil et al. 2015, only three species, had officially been recorded from BC waters. Specimens of the large Krøyer’s deep sea angler fish (Ceratias holboelli) had been preserved, but no one had detailed where the species had been found. Several other dreamerfish had been misidentified in museum collections. The review of species known to exist here was prompted by the identification of a specimen of Melanocetus johnsonii in the RBCM collection, and the discovery of Oneirodes acanthias and Cryptopsaras couesii in 2006. The other species deemed new to BC, or representing significant range extensions, were discovered during the preparation of the paper by Weil et al. and his review of the RBCM collection.

    Below is the list of anglerfish species known to exist in British Columbia (as of March 2020):

    Order: Lophiiformes
    Oneirodidae:
                                        Oneirodes thompsoni
                                        Oneirodes bulbosus
                                        Oneirodes eschrichtii
                                        Oneirodes acanthias
                                        Chaenophryne melanorhabdus
                                        Chaenophryne longiceps

    Melanocetidae:
                                        Melanocetus johnsonii

    Ceratiidae:
                                        Ceratias holboelli
                                        Cryptopsaras couesii

     

    Oneirodes thompsoni, RBCM 010-00196-009, 10.9 cm Standard Length (above); and O. bulbosus, RBCM 004-00005-001, 8.8 cm Standard Length (below), are the most commonly caught dreamers along the entire BC coast. Photo by G. Hanke.

     

    Oneirodes eschrichtii, RBCM 998-00323-002, 8.3 cm Standard Length, represents the first of its species in BC and a northward range extension of 1700 km in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Photo by G. Hanke.

     

    Oneirodes acanthias, RBCM 010-00197-004, 10.5 cm Standard Length, represents the first specimen from BC, and a range extension of 600 km north of the species previously known range off Oregon. Photo by G. Hanke.

     

    Chaenophryne melanorhabdus, RBCM 999-00107-002, 8.9 cm Standard Length, is another commonly caught dreamer, but we have no records north of Vancouver Island. Photo by G. Hanke.

     

    Chaenophryne longiceps, RBCM 998-00344-001, 9.8 cm Standard Length, is one of three specimens now known from BC, roughly 600 km north of the species previously known range off Oregon. Photo by G. Hanke.

     

    Melanocetus johnsonii, RBCM 01400308-001, 9.8 cm Standard Length, is the only specimen known from BC waters and is the first record north of Oregon on this side of the Pacific. Photo by G. Hanke.

     

    Ceratias holboelli, RBCM 999-00081-001, 42.0 cm Standard Length, is our largest deep sea anglerfish, distinctive with its thick elongate fin rays and cover of large thorny denticles. Photo by G. Hanke.

     

    Cryptopsarus couesii, RBCM 014-00309-001, 14.2 cm Standard Length, was caught as bycatch from the commercial fishery and since it was so strange, was kept for identification. It represents the northern most record for the species in the eastern North Pacific Ocean and a first for BC. Photo by G. Hanke.

    Spring has sprung, and it is great time to get going on a garden. There are a ton of things you can grow at home to supplement your diet and reduce your dependence on grocery stores. My wife and I have jokingly named our property UF1510 (Urban Farm 1510). Our street address obviously is 1510, and our garden is the only one on this street fully devoted to food production.

    Planting seeds for this summer.

    When we bought the house over 10 years ago, the front yard had a small patch of St. John’s Wort, a spindly ornamental shrub, a sizable Laurel tree, an isolated Camelia bush and a dodgy coniferous tree. But the majority of the front yard was a flat expanse of lawn. Everything but the Laurel was removed quickly, and over the years, the lawn has been eliminated. We have dedicated a third of the front yard to bare ground for potatoes, beans, carrots and a few other crops. The remaining two-thirds is a “food forest.” We planted blueberries, sour cherries, apple trees, hazelnut bushes, asparagus and a range of flowering plants to attract pollinators. Don’t forget the bees—if you want tomatoes, berries, cucumbers, squash—you need pollinators.

    Alexanders (left) and Salad Burnet (right) are available in winter as a supplement to salads.

    The back yard also was a monoculture of grass when we moved in. It now is changed to a series of raised beds and we grow many varieties of tomatoes, kale, chard, onions, leeks, chives, cucumbers, squash, blackberries (a thornless variety) and raspberries—to name just a few of our home-grown food items. Many of our plants self-seed and effectively are edible weeds (cilantro, salad burnet, alexanders, arugula, kale, leeks and chives are weeds in our garden). I also eat dandelion leaves.

     

    The back yard with its raised beds just waking up from the winter. Oregano, chives, raspberry canes and leeks are going strong—we will have to wait for the raspberries of course.

    This change in gardening practice took us from a flat lawn which needed to be mowed regularly (wasted energy, in my opinion) to a garden we can walk around and pick fresh produce for our daily meals. Even in winter (because we live on southern Vancouver Island), there is food available in the garden. We also leave the deadfall from the previous summer in place all winter. Why leave the deadfall in place?

    1) I am lazy.

    2) it is habitat, shelter and a source of food for overwintering birds.

    Our garden is chemical-free so there also are insects—but thanks to our local birds (and the invading wall lizards), we get free pest control, entertainment and a dash of colour as they flit about.

    Rhubarb, kale, chard, rosemary, and winter cress seem to look after themselves.

    This year I am going to post a series of blog articles to show the progress in the garden—this early in the spring it looks messy—weeds have grown, and last summer’s deadfall has yet to be cleared away. But the garden is full of life—birds are everywhere. Lizards skitter around on the warmer days (they invaded in 2019 from a small population to the north of us). We welcome spiders, but we do draw the line at rabbits and deer – they are not permitted.

     

    Strawberries, a potted peach tree and some early flowers.

    This month, we will clear out the dead stems and weeds. The dead stems go into the compost—they form the dry brown material that alternates with wet kitchen scraps. We don’t eat meat, so everything from the kitchen goes into the compost. And in the kitchen we have light stands to start seeds. Once the risk of frost is gone, the seedlings will be planted.

    This summer’s tomatoes will be started indoors.

    I hope this series inspires people to change their gardening practices and replace lawns with food plants. Even a deck or apartment balcony can provide a small mountain of food. You can even grow your own sprouts in your kitchen to add some home-grown greenery to a sandwich. Our garden is a green security blanket, a source of exercise, entertainment and also nourishes us with food and a sense of pride.

    Tonight, we are having homemade soup which will have diced leaves of home grown kale, chard and alexanders. To kick the series off, here is the recipe for the soup.

    2 chopped carrots

    1 chopped medium sized yellow onion

    2 chopped celery stalks

    3 cups of vegetable broth plus 3 ½ cups of water

    1 pack of simulated shredded chicken

    about 1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning (I never measure exactly, this is cooking not chemistry)

    about a 1 cup of pasta or 1/3 of a package of spaghetti or linguini

    1 cup or so of frozen peas

    We sauté the carrots, celery and onions in a large pot on medium heat for 5 or so minutes. Then we add the broth, the 3 ½ cups of water, fake chicken, and seasoning and bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes – maybe more – until the veggies are cooked. Then toss in the pasta and peas and simmer until the pasta is to your liking, and then we add a handful of chopped kale, alexanders, and chard at the end. Season with salt, pepper to taste. I also add a few drops of a decent hot sauce to my bowl.

    Thank you garden.

    When is a whale not a whale? When taxonomy conflicts with everyday language.

    According to the author of a recent article on the internet, “Although they’re called killer whales, orcas are not actually whales; they belong to the oceanic dolphin family, of which they are the largest members.”

    That statement is both correct in that orcas are in the family Delphinidae, and also incorrect at a higher level—and such statements are ubiquitous on the internet. Using this logic, a goldfish is not a fish because it is a member of the carp family. You are not a placental mammal because you are in the family Hominidae. And roses are not plants because they are in the Rosaceae.

    Carp are fish. Minnows are fish. Goldfish are fish. Placing species in family groups in manmade taxonomic schemes does not eliminate the larger more inclusive groups defining types of organisms. A goldfish is a cyprinid, cyprinids are a type of fish, and therefore, goldfish are fish.

    Orcas presently are in the family Delphinidae. The family Delphinidae is one of many cetacean (whale) families. So by the transitive relations: orcas are whales.

    Whales ultimately evolved from a group of terrestrial mammals, derived from synapsid reptiles, which evolved from amphibians, which evolved from lobe-finned fishes. So mammals, including whales, also are a subset of fishes, if we take this to a crazy extreme. I take great delight in being a fish and a Pisces—not that the present alignment of stars is an indicator of anything.

     

    Most new fishes found in the last two decades were caught during deep water surveys and are adapted to cold water – they probably are not new, just newly discovered. However, marine life is known to stray north during el Niño years, and with the warm water “blob” events in the last decade, unusual northward range records were expected. But northward strays are not a new phenomenon, with historic records of smooth hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna zygaena) off Vancouver Island (Carl 1954, McFarlane et al. 2010), and a tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) and finescale triggerfishes (Balistes polylepis) as far north as Alaska (Mecklenburg et al. 2002).

    Only a few of the new range records in BC likely are attributable to warmer surface waters, including the appearance of the North Pacific argentine (Argentina sialis), which historically was known north to the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon (Love and others 2005). In 2011, a single North Pacific argentine was caught west of Clayquot Sound from 118 m, and represents the first record of the species in British Columbia.

    Three years later, during the height of the 2013-2015 warm blob event, a finescale triggerfish (Balistes polylepis), was caught alive and well off the west side of Vancouver Island, and a fresh louvar (Luvarus imperialis), was found on the beach near Massett. The louvar and finescale triggerfish represent significant strays north of Baja. With its body evolved for open water cruising, it is easy to see how the louvar made its way this far north, but even triggerfishes which swim at a leisurely pace, have strayed into southern Alaska during el Niño events.

    Jump forward 5 years, and a spotted porcupinefish (Diodon hystrix) was found dead at low tide, Jordan River, southern Vancouver Island. The specimen was fairly fresh and had not been scavenged. A second porcupinefish was seen on that same stretch of beach on September 26th (Jerrett Taylor pers. comm.). The second fish was not recovered. Following the coastline, the fishes found at Jordan River are about 2100 km north of their previous range limit off San Diego. It seems unlikely they swam along the coast against the California Current, where upwelling keeps the water cold, but instead took an offshore route in water 2-3°C warmer than normal. Open water excursions are possible given that spotted porcupinefish have crossed open ocean to reach Hawaii, Pitcairn, Easter, and the Galapagos islands. Spotted porcupinefishes have an long larval phase in open water and according to Leis (1978), this is ample time for dispersal.

    Were these the first porcupine fishes in BC? Yes. But a relative of the porcupinefish, a burrfish (Chilomycterus affinis; RBCM 610), was found in BC in July 1939, along Dallas Road in Victoria. The specimen looks like an inflated curio from a tourist trap and Carl and Wilby (1945) were suspicious and did not put the burrfish on the list of fishes known to inhabit our waters.

    Cusk-eels and brotulas of British Columbia have been poorly studied, and until recently, only two species were known from our waters – Spectrunculus grandis and Brosmophycis marginata. However, deep-sea survey samples from 2002-2006, and the commercial fishery provided six new species, with a seventh revealed during re-examination of museum specimens.

    One specimen of Cherublemma emmelas was identified from commercial fishery bycatch in July 2006. It was in a trawl haul from 1097 m in Kyuquot Canyon, west of Vancouver Island, and extends the species’ range roughly 2890 km into British Columbia.

    Shrimp survey samples, and the commercial fishery in the southern Strait of Georgia, British Columbia revealed an additional cusk-eel species (Chilara taylori) at depths of 78 to 109 m. These two fishes have since been joined by others added to the collection, and represent a modest extension of the species’ range north of Willapa Bay, Washington.

    A single specimen of Acanthonus armatus was taken during deep-sea research collections from near Triangle Island at 1778 m and is the first record for the eastern North Pacific Ocean as well as Canada. The announcement of this fish’s presence here netted some unexpected attention because of its common name, the Bony-eared Assfish. The rest of the new cusk eels failed to draw the same level of attention.

    Four specimens of Bassozetus zenkevitchi were collected from depths of 1909 to 2125 m west of Vancouver and Graham islands, show the species ranges along our entire coast. It is likely that others were caught years ago, but were mistakenly identified as Arrowtail, Melanonus zugmayeri, and discarded.

    A single specimen of Cataetyx rubrirostris taken from 2000 m, roughly 18 km east of the Tuzo Wilson Seamounts in Queen Charlotte Sound, represents the first record in British Columbia and a 750 km northward extension from the previous known occurrence west of Nehalem Bank, Oregon. And as of January 2020, only one specimen of Porogadus promelas is known from BC waters, taken roughly 22 km east of the Tuzo Wilson Seamounts in Queen Charlotte Sound. This fish extends the species’ range into the eastern North Pacific, and also represents the northern-most record of the genus in the Pacific Ocean. The genus Porogadus presently is being revised, and since the RBCM specimen is in such good shape, it is being studied by experts in Copenhagen

    During the preparation of the manuscript detailing these new records, I re-examined cusk eels in the Royal BC Museum collection. In the process, a single specimen of Spectrunculus crassus was identified from among the few S. grandis preserved at the Museum. Spectrunculus crassus had been split from S. grandis in 2008, and to date, is the most recent addition to our cusk-eel diversity.

    Because of increased sampling effort since 1999 and re-examination of museum specimens, we now know that 9 species of cusk-eel live in our region.

    Cusk Eels

     

    During the yuletide season of 2014, Rhapsody was found dead. Her unborn daughter had died days earlier. Rhapsody was unable to expel her calf and died from the decay and infection. Her calf was examined at the pathology labs in Abbotsford, then returned to Vancouver Island so that we could prepare her skeleton. She sat in a freezer while we debated the best way to prepare so delicate a skeleton.

    In the spring of 2019, Mike deRoos of Cetacea Inc. decided we should immerse the calf’s remains in a tank of warm water which was oxygenated with an airstone, and let bacteria do the work for us. Once the tank was ready, I drove to Saltspring Island with a fragrant tub in the back of my car.

    Months later, the bones were ready for pickup. My car is nicknamed Tydirium – after the shuttle from the Return of the Jedi – it still smells new inside. Fortunately, the car still smells ok after shuttling a foetal orca back and forth from Saltspring Island.

    Now I have the task of sorting out all the disarticulated bones and putting them back in order. Rhapsody and her calf will be displayed alongside each other in our Orcas exhibit opening May 2020.

    Like humans, bones of a newborn are still growing – and skull bones are not solidly sutured together. The skull bones from Rhapsody’s calf came apart. Vertebrae are not fully formed either – the neural arches, lateral processes, centra and cookies are all separate. What a puzzle! Ribs, sternal ribs – all of these need to be sorted out. And then there are the finger bones in the flippers – I was not looking forward to sorting these out.

    But here is where Mike deRoos saved the day – he arranged to have the calf’s flipper x-rayed, and the image printed at full size is better than an IKEA or LEGO instruction booklet to guide reconstruction of both left and right flippers.

    The three carpals and a few of the distal phalanges are not formed – and the metacarpals and phalanges are widely separated by cartilage. But the size and shape of each bone is so distinctive, that I was able to place each bone where it should go in minutes. Two phalanges from the fingertips of the right flipper were lost during preparation – but overall the flippers look great.

    Ribs are next.

     

    Tom Bown, Volunteer Archaeology Research Associate.

    The first artifacts to arrive at the Royal British Columbia Museum from the Esquimalt Harbour Remediations dredging project (Esquimalt Harbour Remediation 2019) were a pair of pop or mineral water bottles from Charles Mumby, Portsmouth and Gosport.

    This establishes a direct link between the Royal Navy Base in Portsmouth and Esquimalt.

    As many of the Royal Navy ships would have been resupplied at Esquimalt, bottles and other artifacts from British Columbia companies will likely be found in Portsmouth.

     

     


    Fig. 1 C. Mumby glass bottle from Esquimalt Harbour, DcRu-1278:125

     (photo by author)

    The first of these two bottles, is a short squat, amber coloured, cylindrical, bottle with a hand finished blob top.  It is 15.5 cm. in height and 7.7 cm in diameter.  Remarkably the cork is still in the neck and the bottle might still have the original contents.  The front is embossed C. MUMBY & Co with a double circle embossed TRADE MARK P & G and a fouled anchor in the center.  A bottle such as this would likely date between 1884 and 1910.  Hannon and Hannon (1976) state the term trade mark on Mumby’s bottles post dates 1884.


     

     

     

    Fig 2a C. Mumby “torpedo” bottle from Esquimalt Harbour DcRu-1278:36 (front). Photo by author

    Fig 2b C. Mumby bottle from Esquimalt Harbour (reverse side). Photo by author

    The second, is a “torpedo” shaped bottle also known as a Hamilt on style named after the inventor.  In aqua coloured glass, it has a hand finished blob top. It is 19.0 cm in length and 6.1 cm at its widest diameter.  On the front it has a double circle with TRADE MARK at the top and P&G at the bottom with the fouled anchor in the center the same as the one in figure 1.  Above the circle only the last two letters are legible as ER the phrase was likely SODA WATER MAKERS and below the circle TO HER MAGESTY THE QUEEN.  On one side it’s embossed C MUMBY & Co PORTSMOUTH AND GOSPORT on the opposite side.  This bottle likely dates between 1884 and passing of Queen Victoria in 1901.

    The torpedo style bottle was initially designed to withhold the pressure of the carbonation as well as keeping it from standing up right allowing the cork to dry and the carbonation to escape. They were used extensively in the mid 19th century and a few companies kept the design until the start of the 20th century.  In British Columbia, there are no known bottlers that ordered torpedo style bottles embossed with company names.

    Fig. 3 Colonel Charles Mumby. Photo with permission of David Moore, Historic Gosport

    Starting on the mid-19th century, both the Royal Navy and British Army were recognizing alcohol as a serious problem.   Lloyd and Coulter (1963:96) state: “Heavy drinking especially on shore, diminished towards the end of the century when tea and coffee were fast supplanting grog…”   Increased levels of technology required higher levels of training that had little tolerance for drunkenness.   In addition, the temperance moment was having an influence.  As a result, many of the Royal Navy Clubs and regimental canteens were supplying their own soft drink bottles with club names and regimental crests (Bown 2015).  A second advantage of these products was the carbonation which acted as a preservative keeping the contents for long sea voyages.

    It would appear Charles Mumby saw an opportunity and was close at hand to supply the Royal Navy with a good supply of non-alcoholic beverages.   Even his choice of logo with the fouled anchor was likely designed to appeal to the Navy.

    Like many prominent businessmen in the Victoria era, Mumby was an officer in the local militia.  This may have given him the necessary status and connections to supply the Royal Navy.  The following was provided by David Moore at Historic Gosport (2019):

    “Charles Mumby set up business in Gosport in 1849 as a chemist and manufacturer of mineral waters.  His shop was at 47/48 High Street.  His supply of water was a large bore hole in the yard at the back of the shop, which had rear access from North Street.  At 345 feet he hit natural water in the chalk subsoil.  He installed machinery to increase the production of natural ice.  He produced famous soda water, ginger beer and lemonade, selling across the south of England.  He supplied the Army and the Navy, receiving a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria.  The manufacture of mineral waters continued at his original premises in the High Street, and an office was opened up at Portsmouth, first at 71 St George’s Square, then, from the late 1870s, at 34 The Hard.  Charles Mumby was a Poor Law Guardian, a magistrate, a County Councillor for Hampshire, and sat on innumerable public and social committees.  Charles retired in 1885 leaving the business to his son Everitt.” It was floated as a company in 1898.”

    WikiTree (2019) also states Mumby and Company was awarded a Royal Warrant to supply King Edward VII and the company continued to supply the Royal Navy until about 1970.

     

     

     


    Fig. 4  A Photo of Mumby’s Shop, Photo with permission of David Moore, Historic Gosport

     

    Located at 47/48 High Street sometime after the reign of Queen Victoria as the banner states TABLE WATER MAKERS TO HM THE KING. His business in Gosport was conveniently located within a kilometer of the Royal Navy base at Portsmouth across the harbour.


     

     

     

     

     

     

    References
    Bown, T. and C. Addams, 2015. Glass and Pottery of the Royal Navy and British Military: Historic and Archaeological Finds form the 18th, 19th and 20th Century. First Choice Books Victoria B.C.
    Esquimalt Harbour Remediation 2019.
    https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/news/2016/09/esquimalt-harbour-recapitalization-remediation-projects.html  Accessed July, 2019.
    Hannon T., and Hannon A., 1976.  Bottles Found in St Thomas, Virgin Island Waters. Journal of the Virgin Islands Archaeology Society, Volume. 3, 1976, pp. 29-46.
    Historic Gosport, 2019. David Moore Webmaster.
    https://historicgosport.uk/bottles/ Accessed July, 2019.
    Lloyd C., and Coulter J. L. S., 1963. Medicine and the Navy 1200-1900, Vol IV 1815-1900. E. & S. Livingstone Ltd. Edinburgh and London.
    WikiTree 2019.
    https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Category:Charles_Mumby_and_Company. Accessed July, 2019.

     

     

     

     

    Historic Objects from the Esquimalt Remediation Dredging Project

    by Tom Bown, Volunteer Associate in Archaeology

    We rely heavily on technology – integration – connectivity. This was the downfall of the newer generation of Battlestars when the Cylons attacked. Today the government network was down. But it was still possible to connect my phone and a memory stick and write something. And today I am writing about an integrated, connected global network for biological information which at the moment, is inaccessible to me.

    For a few years now I have been collecting lizard range records in a spreadsheet to support a research paper on rapid range expansion in the Common Wall Lizard. That paper now is in-press and will be printed this autumn. Now that we don’t need to be so secretive with our data, we have changed strategies and are encouraging people to report lizard sightings directly to iNaturalist.

    iNaturalist is a global initiative where anyone can sign up, and then report the species they find. A global network of experts help make sure identifications are accurate, and the combined efforts of thousands of observers creates incredible maps for each species. Obviously the species reports are biased – the maps detail where humans go, and microscopic life and invertebrates are underrepresented because they are really hard to ID from a simple photo. But fungi, larger insects, plants, vertebrates – all are mapped in amazing detail.

    These location records now are available to people around the world to track species ranges and how species ranges may change in the future – climate change, habitat loss – you name it – the data is out there to study.

    To enter a record, first you need to get a photograph –you can make a report without a photo – but it is impossible for others to verify what species you found. Photos need to be as good as you can get – a fuzzy blur is not much help. You also can report a sound recording (bird calls for example, or maybe sound files from bat detectors).

    This weekend my wife and I were walking around Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island, and the organism I found – no surprise – is a Common Wall Lizard. In the case I detail below, I have iNaturalist on my phone, and this series of images depict the process of discovery to creation of iNaturalist record. The process takes seconds.

    You take the photos – and this can be tricky – some animals are skittish. I get a basic shot and then slowly close in to get better photos until the subject runs away (botanists and mycologists don’t have this problem). Even a fairly bad photo like the one below is good enough in some obvious cases- but better photos makes identification easier.

    Link the photo(s) to the record.

                 

    Then you specify what species you think you have found – or you can leave it to genus, family, or blank.

                   

    Then you specify the location and date – you can do this manually, or the software draws the location and date from metadata in your photographs.

    Then click on the submit record button – and the record now is live for others to view.

    If your identification is correct, the global community will also ID the organism as you did, and the record goes to a status known as ‘research grade’.

    If you are wrong, people suggest other identifications. You can choose to agree or let the global community of experts come to consensus. Several of my spider and insect identifications have been corrected by experts – and that is the power of this network. We help each other refine the accuracy of these data.

    When I take off with my phone to make iNaturalist records, I say I am Nattering. May has well have a fun name for this activity. It is kind of like trophy hunting – but you create a digital record for the world to see rather than a stuffed animal, or pressed plant, or pinned insect. It’s also highly educational – I have no idea of the identity of many of the insects I photograph, but the software and global community really helps teach what is living right in my own neighbourhood.

    It costs nothing to load and use the software and for my wife and I, we use it as a fun activity we can share while enjoying hikes on this Pacific island, or while our car charges during road trips.

    Why not join the team and photograph what ever you want – starting with Common Wall Lizards and plot their locations in this software. It is fun and you’d be contributing to science.

    In science fiction, FTL means Faster Than Light. But today I am changing the acronym to suit my needs – Fast Tiny Lizard. On June 19th, 2019, Cathy Judd caught a lizard in an industrial area of Vancouver,  and reported to Ashlea Veldhoen (Habitat Acquisition Trust) for identification. I got an email from Ashlea stating that a small green coloured lizard had been caught in Vancouver. I could hear Captain Piccard bellowing Red Alert in my nerdy mind, and I replied with questions and an urgent plea: “PLEASE DO NOT LET IT LOOSE.”

    Then I asked for pictures.

    I was expecting to see a photo of a Common Wall Lizard in any reply – but nope – to my delight and horror, the lizard in the photograph had two well defined stripes and a pale belly with no dark blotches – it was obviously not a Common Wall Lizard.

    This little lacertid was an Italian Wall Lizard (Podarcis siculus) – a species known from scattered locations in the United States including a population on Orcas Island, Washington. They apparently have existed on Orcas island for about 12 years now, but had only been reported in 2018.

    Dorsal view of the female Podarcis siculus (RBCM 2187, TL = 143 mm, SVL = 59 mm) from Vancouver, British Columbia.

    Ventral view of the female Podarcis siculus (RBCM 2187) from Vancouver, British Columbia.

    This lizard, a female, based on its light build and weakly developed femoral pores (males have well developed pores along their thighs) is a first for BC, and possibly also for Canada.

    This lizard could have carried a clutch of 5 or more eggs. But no others have been seen in the area, so I assume this Italian immigrant was a lone stow-away. How it got here is a complete mystery. Was it a dumped pet? Did it stow away in camping gear used on Orcas Island? Or was it hiding in shipping materials from Italy or one of the colonized locations in the USA? We may never know. Perhaps some enterprising student will want to examine its DNA and see if there is a match for a source population.

    Since Italian Wall Lizards are established on Orcas Island in the same climatic zone as southern Vancouver Island and Vancouver, is successful in cooler climates elsewhere in North America, and known to prey on animals as large as shrews, it represents a high risk invader. At least this one is safely preserved in the RBCM collection, and won’t be the matriarch of a second invading Podarcis species.

    The Haida were among the many Indigenous northern visitors to Victoria after 1853. Many came to work to get trade goods or wages to purchase European commodities. The Haida visitors brought carvings they made on Haida Gwaii. Many of these were made of argillite, a stone unique to Haida Gwaii (see appendix 1, What is Argillite). Argillite was used primarily after 1810, there are only a few examples of argillite being used for labrets in ancient times (Keddie 1981).

    Argillite plates, platters, mugs, goblets, knives and forks became popular as the Haida copied the European-style tableware used by the settlers. The citizens of Fort Victoria enthusiastically purchased these.

    On July 21, 1859 the Victoria Gazette reports that the Haida “brought with them a large number of curiosities in the shape of carvings on wood and slate {argillite], and ingenious plaited works in straw, etc. A carving on wood of a steamship, displays great ingenuity, …It is supposed to be designed from a Russian steamer, which occasionally visits the island to trade, and of which the Indians have before brought reports. The carving is about nine inches long and four thick, and is out of a piece of solid oak, with pieces of bone for the masts, bowsprit, guards and fancy work on the sides. On the bow is carved in the wood the double-headed Russian eagle, with Crowns of bone; the carving is very good.”

    The paper goes on to describe the moving parts on this artifact which “is intended as an ornament pipe, the smoke stack being the bowl”. The paper describes an argillite plate with an image of the San Francisco Herald carved on the inside.

     

    Figure 1 and 1a. Argillite carving of what is probably Dr. John Sebastian Helmcken.

    Figure 2 and 2a. Two photographs show Helmcken about 1859 and in later years.

    Although the Haida brought carvings with them to Victoria, they also made them while staying in Victoria and left behind the waste material from their manufacture. Some Haida argillite carvers were known to take consignments to carve figures to resemble known people, such as that in figure 1. There is no document saying who this figure represents.

    I would suggest that this figure is intended to be a characterization of Dr. John Sebastion Helmcken. Helmcken had a distinct flop of hair on one side of the top of his head and always wore a ribbon-like bow tie and a buttoned vest under a formal jacket – like that of the carving. The early photographs of Helmcken resemble the carved figure. In his later years his flop of hair was on his right side, but in early photographs it was, like that on the argillite figure, on the left side. Figure 2 shows the young Helmcken about 1859 and figure 2a shows him in later years.

    The Haida often stayed in the Victoria region for long periods of time, acquiring goods and money by working on the local farms clearing land and assisting in building roads (Keddie 2003). A number of Haida worked on the Craigflower farm after 1853. This may be the source of the broken pieces of argillite found in the refuse from the farm. The Haida visitors to Victoria initially camped in the Rock Bay area but were assigned a temporary place on the south end of the Old Songhees reserve for which they were to pay rent for its use. The waste material from argillite carving has been found at the latter location.

    Figure 3. At top is the broken argillite pipe from Haida Gwaai (after Fladmark 1973). Figure 3a shows a similar style broken pipe (RBCM14810).

    The Archaeological Finds

    When excavating an early 19th Century Haida House at the Richardson Ranch site on Haida Gwaii, Knut Fladmark uncovered an early style broken argillite pipe (fig.3). This is similar to an example in the Royal B.C. Museum collection, RBCM14810 (fig. 3a). No provenience was recorded for this figure, but it matches the description of a pipe in the old Tolmie collection that is recorded as being found on the Old Songhees reserve.

    The Haida did not take up smoking tobacco in pipes until it was introduced by Europeans. They did grow tobacco but mixed it with burnt abalone shell and sucked on a ball of it placed under their lip (Keddie 2016).

    Other archaeological work in the 1970s resulted in the detailed examination of argillite fragments from the historic Village of Kiusta on Haida Gwaai (Gessler and Gessler 1976). These are similar to some of the plate fragments found in Victoria and to the complete plates found in the Royal B.C. Museum Indigenous collections.

    Argillite Finds in Victoria Region

    Fragments of worked argillite and unfinished artifacts, broken during manufacture, were found on the southern end of the Old Songhees Reserve (Archaeological site DcRu-25) on the west side of the inner most portion of Victoria harbour.

    During the massive alterations to the landscape in this area in the 1980s, Museum associate Tom Bown and the author found several pieces of argillite in the old area of the Haida camp and Tom Bown reported that another person (private collection) had found a cluster of argillite manufacturing waste on the south slope of the Hill behind the latter area.

    Recent excavations by I. R. Wilson and Golder consultants recovered argillite pieces in the same general area west of Songhees Point. All of this material was recovered from deposits highly disturbed by previous industrial developments and all were mixed with European manufactured goods.

    Figure 4. Both sides of an unfinished and broken human figure similar to those on large argillite pipes

    Figure 4a. Waste argillite material from the Old Songhees reserve archaeological site DcRu-25.

    Figure 4, shows two views of an unfinished broken human figure resembling finished ones seen on large decorated pipes in the Royal B.C. Museum collection. Figure 4a, shows in addition, a corner of an argillite picture frame (DcRu-25:1546) and tiny (DcRu-25:1591) and large (DcRu-25:1539) sawn discarded pieces. Figure 5, shows three views of a discarded sawn piece of argillite (DcRu-25:5763) and Figure 6, shows three more discarded pieces from the Old Songhees reserve.

    Figure 5. Three views of a discarded piece of sawn argillite.

    Figure 6. Two views of discarded argillite pieces (DcRu-25:445 & 251) and another piece (DcRu-245:5733).

    Round plates decorated with floral, circular and sunburst designs, often on both sides, were the most popular. Figure 7, shows a piece of argillite plate from the surface of site DcRu-123, which has a historic surface area component that is part of the historic Old Songhees Reserve site DcRu-25. The pattern on the fragment (DcRu-123:57) matches the design on the bottom of the same plate (fig. 7a)whose top designs match the pieces from the Craigflower Farm site.

    Five pieces of a plate were found by Tom Bown in a systematic beach survey of old washed out garbage deposits at Craigflower farm (figure 8). The figure shows five pieces (two fit together) of the same argillite plate.

    Figure 7 and 7a. Piece of argillite plate, RBCM DcRu-123:57, from the Old Songhees Reserve area that matches the bottom design of plate RBCM15709 in the Royal B.C. Museum collection. The top of the same plate matches pieces from the old Craigflower Farm.

    Figure 8.  Pieces of the same argillite plate from the old Craigflower Farm in View Royal.

    Figure 8a. Close-up of design patterns on argillite plate in the RBCM collection that has similar patterns as the pieces found at the Craigflower farm (RBCM15709).


    Appendix 1. What is Argillite?

    Argillite is variable in content. The particular dense black carbonaceous material used by the Haida from their Tllgaduu Creek reserve site is different than other argillites found on the Islands. The Tllgaduu argillite is basically composed of silt-sized fragments of kaolite (a fine clay) present in a fine carbonaceous clay matrix. Because of folding and heating of these deposites caused by an ancient nearby volcanic eruption, these argillite deposits have unique properties that enable it to be easily carved. It ranges from, gray to black and has a hardness of 2.5. Argillite contains some moisture when quarried and needs to be dried out to prevent cracking – but the moisture content does not have any effect on the hardness of the material.


    References

    Macnair, Peter L. and Alan L. Hoover. 2002. The Magic Leaves. A History of Haida Argillite Carving. Photgraphs by Andrew Nieman and Burt Storey. Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria, B.C.

    Barbeau, M.C. 1953. Haida Myths Illustrated in Argillite Carvings. Bulletin 127, Anmthropology Series 32. Ottawa. National museum of Canada.

    Barbeau, M.C. 1957. Haida Carvings in Argillite. Bulletin 139, Anthropology Series 38. Ottawa National Museum of Canada.

    Fladmark, Knut R. 1973. The Richardson Ranch Site: A 19th Century Haida House. In: Historical Archaeology in Northwest North America, edited by R.M. Getty and K.R. Fladmark. University of Calgary Publication,Calgary.

    Gessler Nicholas and Trisha Gessler. 1976. A Comparative analysis of argillite from Kiusta. Syesis 9:13-18.

    Keddie, Grant R. 2016. Aboriginal Use and Context of Pipes, Tobacco, and Smoking in Northwestern North America. In: Elizabeth A. Bollwerk and Shannon Tushingham (Editors). Perspectives on the Archaeology of Pipes, Tobacco and other Smoke Plants in the Ancient Americas. 157-181. Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology. Springer International Publications Switzerland.

    Keddie, Grant R. 1981, The use and distribution of labrets on the North Pacific Rim. Syesis 14:59-80.

    Frank Stanley Martin was a Victoria jeweller who made a hobby of photographing the city in the 1950s and 60s.  He was also pretty good about identifying the photographs which makes the work of an archivist much easier.   A small batch of his photographs were donated to the BC Archives in 1985 and I recently did a fonds description for them, pulling together the items that had been described and sometimes digitized.  My colleague Chantaal, kindly digitized the ones that had a descriptive record but no image attached.  I went back to the original photographs and made sure they had the titles and information that Martin had written on the back of each one.

    I enjoyed looking at these photographs, particularly because Victoria is undergoing such a change right now.  There are cranes, scaffolds and building sites everywhere and sometimes its difficult to remember what the city streets looked like just a few decades ago.  You can see the fonds description for PR-2382 and the 62 digitized images here

    I like this one because this photograph taken at the corner of Government and Humboldt St. could have been taken last week.

    I-68492

    Original Digital object not accessible

    After the building of Fort Victoria some of the Lekwungen peoples from outside winter villages moved into the inner harbor. In 1844, they became established at a new location on the west side of Victoria’s inner harbor. This village became what is now known as the Old Songhees Reserve (Keddie 2003).

    By the mid-1840s a surface burial ground was established by the Lekwungen on the northern tip of Laurel Point across from the new village.

    The burial ground was composed of several burial sheds covered with tuli reed mats and associated with prominent carved wooden burial figures that represented the dead who were buried there. The first Image of this location (fig. 1) was drawn by William McMurtrie a draughtsman in the hydrographic party surveying the American coast. He made a brief visit Victoria in July of 1850 (Monroe 1960).

    Figure 1. Drawing of Laurel Point burials by William McMurtrie, July 1850. Museum of Fine Arts Boston. C18868, Acc #59.153.

    In the 19th century, Laurel Point, earlier called Deadman’s Point, was a long thin rocky peninsula (Fig. 2). The burial ground was a feature seen by everyone coming into the narrow portion of the inner harbour. Drawings of the location with human figures in front of the wooden shed-like structures, and one figure wearing a European style top-hat, were the subject of several other artists and at least one photographer over the next nine years until they disappeared.  Only a lithograph of the photograph has been located to date. Drawings and water colours were done on two occasions by marine surveyor James Alden during visits of the American steam frigate Active.  A day after the ship arrival on September 16, 1854, Alden drew a close-up version of the wooden figures (Fig. 3). Alden did other drawings in the area and returned in 1857 to do another water colour of Laurel Point and burial sites at the Coffin and Deadman (Halkett) Islands. He drew his ship USS Active in Esquimalt Harbour on June 29, 1857.

    James Anderson (the son of Alexander C. Anderson of the Hudson’s Bay Company) saw the burial sites in 1850, and commented: “the wooden effigies marking the place where some notable was laid to rest in his canoe or wooden sepulchre surrounded by many of the personal belongings.”

    Figure 2. Long thin Laurel Point about 1868. Burials were once on the end of the point. RBCM Archives A-02660.

    Figure 3. “Indian graves Laurel Pt Victoria Harbor” James Alden September 17, 1854. Washington State Historical Society (1932.93.7(1)-2).

     

    The Gazette Story

    A drawing of the burial ground by Charles Chistian Nahl was being made into a lithograph engraving in 1858, but did not get published in the Gazette until October 16, 1859. The location was described on October 15, 1858, in the Victoria Gazette:

    “The Burying Ground of the Songhish Chieftains, at Dead Man’s Point. The burying ground …of the chiefs of the Songhish tribe is located on Deadman’s Point, nearly west of Victoria …Subsequent to the migrations of whites hither in 1848-9, this burying ground has not been used … Since that period none of the deceased have been considered worthy of interment there. The four figures placed on the spot are rude carvings of wood, as large as life, each one representing the chief against whose grave it is placed. They are arranged in line, and are about two feet apart, facing the entrance of the harbour, and formerly struck the eye of the stranger …as a body of military sentinels on duty, guarding the inner harbour.

    At one time they were very conspicuous, being painted in bright colors and with much taste, vermilion, black, &c, being the predominant hues. The old Laurel [arbutus] trees were well chosen by the Indians to shade their great dead.

    One of the figures holds between his hands the skull of a dead enemy and rival chief, whom he killed in deadly fight, …He in his life was a warrior of renown, and the tradition with his deeds …in the memories of his descendants of the present generation, would make him a Songish Caractus.

    The next to him was …a celebrated warrior; but more particularly famed as a spokesman, sagacious advisor, seer and statesman. He is represented as addressing the tribe, in an attitude of imperative command. The two others were renowned hunters revered in the oral annals of the tribe for daring feats in slaying the black bear, panther and wolf, …One is represented as holding in each hand a live wolf, rampant, the other is also grasping in either hand a wolf inverted”.

    Figure 4. A lithograph engraved from a drawing by Charles Chistian Nahl. Published October 16, 1859, in the Victoria Gazette. RBCM PDP03722.

    Water colours were drawn in three views by Tyrwhitt Drake in August of 1859’ Drake painted and described these figures as “sentinels over a large grave, of the family vault” – in one he saw an “old gentleman …doubled up into a sitting position, a bit of reed matting put over him & then he is built in with post logs of wood & a few stones to keep all snug” (King, 1999:153).

    Figure 5. Three Paintings of the grave figures by Montague Tyrwhitt-Drake. August 1859.

    Lithographs in Richard Mayne and John Keast Lord Publications

    Richard Mayne, a Naval officer on board the Plumper (1857-60) and Hecate (1861), first visited Vancouver Island in 1849. He had a lithograph (illustration 18, opposite page 271) done from a photograph for his 1862 publication, Four Years in British Columbia, showing the burial ground on Laurel Point (Mayne 1962).  The present location of the photograph is unknown.  We can only speculate that the original photograph was taken by one of the two Royal Engineers trained in photography brought over in 1859. We can give a suggested date of late 1859 or early 1860 for the photograph from which the lithograph was made (Fig. 6).

    In this lithograph the animal figures and arms have been broken off the wooden grave figures. This same lithograph, but in reverse, is found in John Keast Lord’s vol. II of his The Naturalist in Vancouver Island and British Columbia  published in 1866 (Fig. 7).

    Lord added drawings of artifacts not at the site and of three skulls, also not related to the burial site. These skulls have nothing to do with this burial – they have been drawn in this lithograph to represent the two dominant types of artificial head shaping – The northern Vancouver Island style on the left and the southern Island type on the right, compared to the unshaped skull in the middle.

    Figure 6. Lithograph of Laurel Point burial ground. The arms and animals have been broken off from the human figures. From Mayne 1862.

    Figure 7. Lithograph with addition of skulls shown in J.K. Lord’s publication. The reverse of the Mayne lithograph. From Lord 1866.

    Lord describes the burials and the objects that were added to the drawing that were not in the original photograph:

    “ The Indian burial ground was drawn from a photograph. The huge figures, carved from solid trees, are placed round the boxes in order to keep away evil spirits; small tin vessels, pieces of coloured cloth, the skins of small animals, and all kinds of odds and ends, are hung by the relatives of the dead on the boxes containing the body. One thing they never fail to do – that is, to bore the bottom of the tin cups or vessels full of holes: thus rendering useless no one will steal them.

    Scattered on the ground are flint implements, once used by the Indians, and  the three skulls spoken of. The one to the left is that of the chief, brought from Fort Rupert (vide trip to Fort Rupert, Vol. I), showing the effect of circular pressure; the middle one is an unaltered head from the middle Columbia; whilst that on the left shows the effect of flattening of the forehead” (Lord 1866 (2):260-261).

    Lord mentions the location of the middle skull dug out of a gravel bank: “The place from whence I obtained these singular relics was a gravel-bank, near Fort Colville, whilst digging out the nests of land-martins” Lord 1866 (2):103).

    The Laurel Point peninsula has undergone a great deal of development and has been greatly expanded by land fill over the last 60 years (Fig. 8 & 9).  It was only short lived, starting after 1844 and no longer being used by 1858. What happen to the ancestral remains is unknown. They may have been transferred over to the burial ground on Halkett Island.

    Figure 8. Looking south to Laurel Point across Songhees Point at the centre. Grant Keddie Photograph 2008.

    Figure 9. Laurel Point on left showing the extent of landfilling. Grant Keddie photo 2007.


    References

    Anderson, James Robert. RBCM Archives Additional Manuscript 1912.

    Ayers, Jr. Darien. Drawing of Laurel Point in “1857”. Collection of the Washington State Historical Society, Plate 23, p.70 [mislabelled as “Departure Bay”]. Tacoma Washington; (NW 759.13 A358)

    Drake, Tyrwhitt. 1859. Paintings and commentary of Tyrwhitt Drake. British Museum. Department of Ethnology.  Document 1310. Letter: Am.BR56-TWR

    Keddie, Grant. 2003. Songhees Pictorial. A History of the Songhees People as Seen by Outsiders, 1790-1911. Royal B.C. Museum, Victoria, British Columbia.

    King, Jonathon 1999. First Peoples, First Contacts. Native Peoples of North America. London: British Museum Press.

    Lord, John Keast Lord. 1866. The Naturalist in Vancouver Island and British Columbia. Vol. 1&2. Richard Bently, New Burlington Street, Published in Ordinary to the Majesty, London.

    Mayne, Richard Charles. 1862. Four Years in British Columbia and Vancouver Island. An account of Their Forests, Rivers, Coasts, Gold Fields, and Resources for Colonization. John Murray, Albermarle Street, London.

    Monroe, Robert D. Two Early Views of Vancouver Island. Beaver. Summer 1960:12-14. The image used is in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, C18868, Acc.# 59.153, Titled: Graves at Laurel Point.

    Stenzel, Franz. James M. Alden. “Indian Graves Laurel Point, Sept 17, 1854” (Plate 9, p.33). Collection of Mr. & Mrs. Albert W. Ayers, Jr.

    Victoria Gazette. 1858.  The Burying Ground of the Songhish Chieftains, at Dead Man’s Point. Oct. 15, Vol. 1, No.67.

    Victoria Gazette. 1858. The Weekly Gazette, Oct. 16 “Contains a View of the Songhish Indian Burial Ground, At Deadman’s Point [Laurel Point], opposite Victoria”, Notice in Victoria Gazette of Oct. 22, p. 3.

    Victoria Gazette. 1859. A lithograph engraved from a drawing by Charles Chistian Nahl. October 16. 1859. (Archives, PDP03722).

    Lord, John Keast.  1866.  The Naturalist in Vancouver Island and British Columbia, Vol. II, p. 103, Richard Bentley, London.

    Gilmore, Berenice.  1980.  Artists Overland. A Visual Record of British Columbia 1793-1886, Burnaby Art Gallery, Century Park, September 10 to October 18, 1980. Provincial Archives of British Columbia, Victoria. November 3, 1980 to January 9, 1981. p. 44 [Mistakenly shows drawing as “Departure bay”].

    Some people get angry when they miss a bus. This morning as I crossed Bowker Creek, and saw my bus heading south. It was a cool morning. It had rained overnight. The air smelled of spring. Birds were everywhere. Missing the bus was a good thing.

    Even along suburbian streets, you can do a bit of bird watching when you miss a bus. Regulars along my street include: Northern Flicker, Common Raven, Northwestern Crow, American Robin, Bewick’s Wren, Merlin, Spotted Towhee, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, and Anna’s Hummingbird.

    A nesting Anna’s Hummingbird – our neighbour’s Holly bush makes pretty safe nesting habitat.

    Overhead you can see a range of gulls, Great Blue Herons, Red-tailed Hawks, Turkey Vultures, and Bald Eagles. Mallards and Canada Geese fly over on their way to and from the local golf course water traps, and a pair of Mallards have taken up residence on the neighbour’s lawn.

    And it is no surprise we have exotics like the California Quail, House Sparrow, and European Starling.

    Violet-green Swallow – always fun to see them overhead.

    In summer we get Violet-green Swallows, Barn Swallows, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, White-crowned Sparrow, Purple Finches, and the occasional Western Tanager, Wilson’s Snipe and Common Nighthawk. A few years ago over 30 nighthawks cruised the neighbourhood – that was neat. Steller’s Jay, Varied Thrush, Golden-crowned Sparrow, and Dark-eyed Junco are more common in winter.

    Missing from this list is owls – there have to be suburban owls in my neighbourhood – especially Barred Owls – I just haven’t seen any.

    Great Horned Owl – not in my garden though (the jesses give it away).

    This morning I walked smack into the middle of an irruption of Bushtits, Chestnut-backed Chickadees and Golden-crowned Kinglets. It’s hard to be mad at missing a bus when you are surrounded by those tiny energetic birds, each searching for a morning meal. Then an Anna’s Hummingbird chased one crow away, and while another crow flew by with nesting material in its beak. Seconds later, the bus arrived to ruin the fun – everyone on board staring at their smartphones.

    I wonder if any of the passengers were checking a birding app? Were they on iBird?  Ebird? Or adding a sighting to iNaturalist? I wonder how many know that a smartphone can be used for more than playing Angry Birds.

    The diversity of wildlife apps is increasing at a time when global biodiversity is in peril. Some apps like the Sibley’s bird guide on my phone are more for simple identification and to log your life list. Others feed into bigger networks that help science and feed into wildlife management decisions.

    Not sure which app is right for you? Read this review of 5 top birding apps.

    If you aren’t interested in slogging through a birding app in a phone or tablet, maybe this would be for you – a project proposed for Google Glass – Glass Birds – as for this YouTube video though – anyone can ID a Western Tanager.

     

    I wonder if Glass Birds is refined to ID birds like this Rock Wren? I need the Google Glasses for gulls, some sparrows, fall warblers, flycatchers, and shorebirds, and best of all, I would be a taxonomic cyborg!

    We hear on the news about our armed forces personnel helping people overseas during peacekeeping missions. This year we saw our forces helping flood victims and airlifting communities threatened by forest fires here in Canada. But military presence also can help wildlife – yes, wildlife can flourish even on live fire ranges where tanks range far and wide.

    A frame from Sebastian Koerner‘s film footage of a wolf pup and a Marten (Marder) in the Munster-Military training area Lüneburger Heide, Germany.

    A recent article in the NewScientist detailed how military ranges are benefitting wolves in Europe. Large carnivores tend to fare poorly when in close contact with our species – we shoot them, our highways and industry fragment and destroy their habitat, and we can thank our automotive industry and its infrastructure for the term Road Kill.

    On military ranges, the gun fire is routine and predictable and animals get accustomed to the episodic timing of activity. The range itself and the area nearby generally is devoid of people – except for the short periods during training exercises – and the military presence is a huge deterrent for poachers. I took a Wildlife Management course years ago, and the professor said, “Wildlife management is not about controlling wildlife, it is about controlling people.”

    Regulation of human activity in military training areas is so effective, wolves seem to prefer testing ranges in Germany – they are more abundant in military training areas than in nearby wildlife management areas. In addition, roads in testing ranges make convenient thoroughfares for large carnivores and have far less traffic compared to highways near parks.

    While reading this NewScientist article I had a flashback to my M.Sc. supervisor, Ken Stewart and his recollection of a misty morning searching for snakes around the Canadian Forces Base in Shilo, Manitoba. The testing range near CFB Shilo is adjacent to the Sprucewoods region and what was once Lake Agassiz beachfront, is now undulating terrain and perfect for training against hidden targets. For tank crews, this sandy, gravelly substrate reduces the risk of ricochets during live-fire exercises and makes it easier to retrieve ordnance. This same sandy habitat also is home to some rarely encountered animals and plants in that province.

    The Plains Hognose Snake (Heterodon nasicus); photo by Dean Hester.

    Ken described his morning, bushwhacking through a forested area adjacent to the base and how the conifers reminded him of the Ardennes Forest and the Battle of the Bulge. He imagined he morning’s sub-silence shattered by the clanking tracks and diesel engine of a Tiger Tank, and said, “All I needed was Lili Marlène playing on an old turntable to complete the scene.” But when Ken was there, it would have been a Leopard, not a Tiger ensuring that all but the most intrepid herpetologists were kept well-clear.

    Leopard 1 Main Battle Tank; photo by Sergeant Dennis Power, Army News-Shilo. ©2008 DND/MDN Canada

    Essentially, this pocket of land within the ranges of the Northern Prairie Skink (Plestiodon septentrionalis) and Plains Hognose Snake (Heterodon nasicus) is protected by our armed forces and right next door to Spruce Woods Provincial Park. Ken’s story dates back years before he and I met – and so the concept of military ranges as critical shelter for wildlife is certainly not new. CFB Shilo, recently saluted for its work on wildlife conservation, has a Base Biologist who oversees natural resource management, gives tours of the sand dunes, and facilitates research in this restricted area. Other bases like CFB Suffield  provide grassland habitat for  a myriad of species including Burrowing Owls, Sprague’s Pipit, Pronghorn and Ord’s Kangaroo Rat. CFB Gagetown is working to protect one of nature’s tanks – the endangered Wood Turtle.

    Sandy blow-out areas and mixed woods habitat protected by CFB Shilo, image courtesy of the Manitoba Association of Plant Biologists.

    Since the concept of military ranges as shelter for wildlife is not new, the NewScientist story on wolves serves to reinforce the fact that human activity now is the primary factor influencing nature – as also stated in Bill McKibben’s book, The End of Nature. If we restrict human activity, nature thrives. Since wolves in BC capitalize on human activity and use pipelines, roads and seismic lines cut during oil and gas exploration, and well-packed snowmobile trails as easy avenues to track Caribou, you can bet BC’s wolves also could adapt to military ranges as their relatives do in Germany.  The list of species protected on Department of National Defense (DND) land is extensive and it is good to see that in areas where soldiers practice and you’d expect disruption and devastation – the opposite is true – human activity is restricted, and life adapts to, and is protected by our armed forces.

    There is a type of artifact found in British Columbia that I suspect archaeologists have been missing during the process of excavation. Some have a minimum of grinding on the ends and are difficult to identify if they are not carefully examined. These are artifacts made from the tubular shaped shell or tunnel cast of the Teredo mullosc, the common shipworm.

    These Toredo tube shells have been used in historic times as hat ornaments (figures 1-3) and as smaller beads (figure 4-5) in ancient times.

    Figure 1. Bella Coola woven hat with Toredo shell ornaments. RBCM 18655.

    Figure 1. Bella Coola woven hat with Toredo shell ornaments. RBCM 18655.

    Figure 2. Close up of three pieces of Toredo cast tubes from hat. RBCM 18655.

    Figure 2. Close up of three pieces of Toredo cast tubes from hat. RBCM 18655.

    Figure 3. Close up of ground end of Mullosc tube on hat. RBCM 18655.

    Figure 3. Close up of ground end of Mullosc tube on hat. RBCM 18655.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The Teredos are intertidal species of salt water clams famous for eating holes in ships and other wooden objects.  It is the wood tunnel lined with calcareous material extruded by the mollusc that creates a round sectioned tube. This tube was used by Indigenous people for making body adornment artifacts such as the beads and hat ornaments shown here. The tubes can be up to 600mm long and often range from 4-12mm in thickness (figure 4).

     

    Figure 4. Natural Teredo shell tubes on left. Right: Tube beads - DeRv-107:56 on the bottom and DeRt-9:230 on top.

    Figure 4. Natural Teredo shell tubes on left. Right: Tube beads – DeRv-107:56 on the bottom and DeRt-9:230 on top.

     

    There are six shell tubes strung on leather cords that can be seen as ornamental design on the Bella Coola hat (figure 1). Their length ranges from 40 to 62mm. Only a few of the tubes show evidence of grinding on the ends.  This hat was collected in Bella Coola in 1893.

    The larger of the two tube beads (figure 4-5) is from archaeological site DeRv-107 in the Maple Bay area of Vancouver Island. It is 21mm long by 13mm wide and has been ground on the ends. The small bead from site DeRt-9 at Lyall Harbour on Saturna Island is 8mm long by 7mm wide. It has been ground on the ends as well as the sides. The ground ends of the two beads can be seen in figure 5.

     

    Figure 5. Tube beads showing ground ends. Left: DeRv-107:56. Right: DeRt-9:230.

    Figure 5. Tube beads showing ground ends. Left: DeRv-107:56. Right: DeRt-9:230.

    In 2006, the “Spirit bear” was adopted as the provincial mammal of British Columbia.

    The term “Spirit Bear” has to a large extent been overused as a media hype word. It has often been misinterpreted as a direct aboriginal name of a unique type or species of bear. The circular movement of information between indigenous peoples and popular writers, have created some modern myths such as comments that white bears, also referred to as “ghost bears” were not traditionally hunted. Today they are referred to as a subspecies of black bear called Ursus americanus kermodei.

    The environmental movement of the western world has over-simplified the portrayal of all white coloured black bears by using them as a symbol of political opposition to the destruction of our valuable ecosystems. In a positive way this has produced an expanded awareness of the role of bears in the forest eco-systems of British Columbia and resulted in the protection of some of our valuable habitats. However, we must see the protection of habitats and the genetic diversity of all plants and animals as important.  Discussions need to expand beyond what we call “endangered species” to what we think of as “common animals” that have, and continue to be, extirpated from many parts of our Province.  Caribou (which are reindeer) once expanded over large areas of the Interior of the Province. It should not be necessary to find ones with red noses to justify saving their habitat.

    Figure 1a. Black bear (Ursus Americanus). Grant Keddie photograph 2010.

    Figure 1a. Black bear (Ursus Americanus). Grant Keddie photograph 2010.

    The Strategic Plan for our planets biodiversity developed by participants to the 2010 Convention on Biological diversity adopted 20 targets. Target 11 involves making 17% of land and inland waters and 10% of coastal and marine areas into conservation areas (Piero et al 2019). By world standards British Columbia is a leader in developing conservation areas like the Great Bear Rain Forest. However, as Piero and colleges emphasize, we cannot use square kilometers as a measure of success but need to document the biodiversity impacts of conservation areas. By placing a focus on protecting white coloured black bears we need to understand what effect are we having on the bigger long term picture of the genetic diversity of black bears.

    What makes a White Coloured Bear

    The white fur coloration in bears is caused by a single recessive gene called Mc1r, a melanocortin 1 receptor which is involved in melanin production. Melanin is primarily responsible for the pigmentation of the skin, hair and eyes of humans and other animals. The chemistry involved here is called melanogenesis. The Mc1r gene produces enzymes such as tyrosinase which play an important role in melanin synthesis. The same chemical process is used today in making tooth whiteners, where chemicals are used to suppress the tyrosinase enzyme and stop the production of colouration (see Reimchen and Klinka 2017; Hedrick and Ritland 2011; Klinka and Reimchen 2009; Marshall and Ritland 2002; Ritland et. al. 2001).

    The chemistry produced by this gene causes some bears fur to be white or black. If both a female and male have the recessive Mc1r gene, one of their four offspring will have white hair and two of them will have recessive genes for white hair. A white furred bear mating with a bear with the recessive gene will have two white bears and two with the recessive gene. There are other genes related to thyroid hormone production that create combinations of white and black fur colours in bears (see Crockford 2006; 2003).

     

    Figure 2a. Two white furred black bear cubs in pre-1906 Provincial Museum exhibit (RBCM 020317 and RBCM 120318).

    Figure 2b. “Kermode’s bear exhibit” in 1909, at the Provincial Museum. A new exhibit case with the addition of two adults and a juvenile (RBCM F-07368).

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    There is currently discussion as to how one uses genetics (with or without obviously physical morphology) to define an animal subspecies. It is likely there are genes with currently unrecognized functions that are far more important for the survival of black bears than genes that affect hair colour. Today we could target and edit out the single gene that produces the tyrosinase enzyme that affects pigmentation, and make all black bears white albinos if we choose to. Responsible people, of course, would not do this, but it emphasizes how such minute genetic differences can affect cultural attitudes and land use policies that affect species diversity and the future of animal and human survival.

    The flogging of the name “spirit bear” stems out of activities of the early 1900s when there was an over-abundance of new species and sub-species of bears named on the bases of sometimes flimsy physical evidence (see Merriman 1918; Holzworth 1930). In 1905, we saw the naming and promotion of black bears with the recessive genes for white fur being mistakenly given status as a separate species, Ursus kermodei – after the Provincial Museum director Francis (Frank) Kermode.

    White Coloured Bears and the Collection of Specimens

    White coloured bears were documented in Northwestern North America as early as 1805, during the Louis and Clark expedition.  In the 19th century British Columbia Indigenous people were known to bring in white bear skins to fur traders. Mayor Findlay of Vancouver wrote about his observations of white bear skins: “I have in my possession a skin which I secured in 1896. In Bella Bella in the store of John Clay, five skins at one time, brought there by the Bella Bella Indians of Princes Royal Island. I have at other times seen skins of this bear in Robert Cunningham’s store at Port Essington, as well as one or two in cannery stores in Rivers Inlet” (Daily Colonist Nov. 23, 1912, p. 6).

    It was Robert Cunningham, of Port Essington, who previous to 1904, provided Francis Kermode of the Provincial Museum with the first white furred bear specimens which included a mother and two cubs. These were mounted at different times in two museum display cases seen in figure 2a&b. It was reported that Kermode was “at a loss to classify it” and sent the skin of a female bear to Dr. W.T. Hornady, the director of the New York Zoo. Hornaday was in Victoria in 1900, where he “was led to believe that such a white bear existed by the discovery of a skin at the premises of J. Boscowitz” (Daily Colonist 1905; 1925). The mother bear and cubs were mounted specimens that were not catalogued into the Museum collection at the time they were received. The Provincial Museum’s 1909 Natural History & Ethnology Catalogue, in referring to the Ursus Kermodei (Hornaday) notes that: “now the species is represented by a group of five specimens” (1909:18). This reference seems to refer only to those five mounted bears shown in the display case in the same publication. At this time only four specimens had received catalogue numbers, which did not seem to include one or two of these mounted bears. The two cubs shown in the exhibit case were later given catalogue numbers RBCM 020317 and RBCM 020318.

    The Museum received a male partial skull and white skin of a bear from Gribbell Island in May of 1904 (RBCM 001369). This became the type specimen for what was later seen as a species and then a sub-species. Other specimens of white coloured black bears in the Royal B.C. Museum collection include another two from Gribbell Island. One was the skull of an immature bear (RBCM 001371) collected May 22, 1906 and the other a mandible of a young bear (001638) collected May 28, 1907. Two specimens were later collected from Princess Royal Island, an adult skull (001367) collected on June 1, 1908 and an adult male skull and skin (001370) collected May 22, 1910. Future DNA analysis will be needed to match a few of the skins with the other catalogued remains.

    In 1911, “One whole specimen Kermode’s white bear” was shipped to Vienna Austria for an exhibit at the international Sportman’s Show which was reported on by B.C. hunter Warburton Pike (Daily Colonist 1911). This resulted in an international interest in acquiring specimens of the white bear. In 1912, the Victoria Daily Colonist reported that Dr. French of Washington was willing to pay $250 for a live white bear (Daily Colonist 1912b).

    The First Live Bear Captured

    Figure 3. Black bear with recessive white fur gene in Beacon Hill Park. The bear lived in the Park from 1924 until it died in 1948 (RBCM Archives (j-00051_142).

    A live six month old white colored black bear was captured on Prince Royal Island in 1924, by Indigenous people and brought to Ocean Falls where it was sold to a Virginian, O.W. Flowers for $60. Flowers brought the bear to Powel River and then to Vancouver. It was seized by the Game Commission in Vancouver and sent to Kermode in Victoria. It was put into a cage in Beacon Hill Park on July 31, 1924 (figure 3). It remained in the Park until it died in December 1948. The skull and skin where put in the Provincial Museum collection on December 5, 1924 (RBCM 005526).

    Much later two specimens came to the RBCM from the Terrace area, an immature male skin and skeleton collected in September 1, 1974 (RBCM 009047) and a skin, skull and hyoid bones collected in May 1985 (RBCM 016007). A specimen from the Penticton Game Farm that died at the age of 19 years was acquired on January 26 1990 (018558).

    Current Subspecies Designations

    More recent summaries based on morphological studies have defined five subspecies of black bears in British Columbia: ursus americanus altifrontalis, ursus americanus carlottae, ursus americanus cinnamonum, ursus americanus kermodei and ursus americanus vancourveri (Hatler et. al. 2008). Ongoing DNA studies have, so far, identified three subcontinental clusters (lineages or haplogroups), which are further divided into nine geographic regions. The Western genetic population cluster included the region from western Alaska along the Pacific Coast to the American Southwest (Puckett et. al. 2015). More extensive whole genome research will be needed to gain a better understanding of the range of genetic diversity and the extent of the various recessive genes found in black bears in British Columbia.

    Traditional Indigenous Beliefs

    In traditional societies, indigenous people were very aware of the complex physical and behavioral diversity of animals. The term “Spirit bear” is a little more complex in its meaning than what is generally presented in the media. Indigenous peoples knew that this was a variation of the black bear. If we were to go back in time and observe Indigenous bear hunters we would probably label them all – to use the modern jargon – as “bear whisperers”. Before the introduction of the rifle, bears were hunted in their winter dens and caught in dead fall traps (see appendix 2. Bear Traps and Indigenous Laws Pertaining to Bear Hunting). Detailed knowledge of bear behavior was crucial for survival.  First or second hand observations about bears by Indigenous peoples are scattered through the ethnographic and historic literature. A selection will be presented here that make reference to the complexity of bear fur colours and the in depth relationship of Indigenous peoples with all bears.

    The term Moksgm’ol (different ways of writing it) which can be interpreted as “spirit bear” is used in a Tsimshian Raven creation story. Various Tsimshian and Niska families have held family crests with names translated as  “white bear”; “white grizzly”; “robe of white bear”; “hat of white bear”; “grizzly of winter”; “robe of white breast [of bear]”. There are both grizzly and black bears with various degrees of white as well as albino bears (Sapir 1915). Figure 4, shows a person dressed in a bear costume in a theatrical ceremony that demonstrates the alliance of the Fort Wrangell Tlingit chief Shakes with the bear family from whom he traces his descent (Niblack 1888).

    Figure 4. Bear ceremonial for Chief Shakes. (After Niblack 1888).

    Tlingit and Tsimshian stories mention bears with unusual white markings. The “Story of the White-faced Bear”, is about a bear that was once a human who had killed too many bears. As a bear he had killed many humans. He was considered invincible: “Each time that he kills a man he tears him, and examines him carefully, as if he is searching for some marks on his body. He is unlike other bears, in that his head and feet are white” (Golder 1907).

    Some of these stories are told as more recent historic events and others in the context of a man marrying a bear-woman or a woman marrying a bear-man in the distant past. A Tsimshian story relates how their clan is descended from the survivors of a great flood – a woman and a bear with white fur. A Tlingit hunter killed a bear with a “white furred belly”, which after he skinned it, turned into a woman who helped him (Swanton 1908:228-229). Stories of bears transforming themselves into humans and marring humans are common – such as the story told by Tsimshian, Henry Tate (Maud 1993) or the story told by indigenous peoples of Hartley Bay of a marriage to a female bear with a “very white belly’ (Cove and McDonald 1987).

    Figure 5. Leo Taku Jack of Atlin on the Nakina River. Bear skin with light coloured markings. About 1935. (RBCM PN009693).

    Figure 5. Leo Taku Jack of Atlin on the Nakina River. Bear skin with light coloured markings. About 1935. (RBCM PN009693).

    In 1972, I had discussions with the late Leo Taku Jack (1909-1979) of Atlin, who told me about the variations in white markings on the belly, sides and necks of black bears that he hunted along the Nakina and Taku rivers in the 1930s to 1950s period (see figure 5).

    Indigenous bear hunters were good observers and aware that black bears came in variations of browns and various degrees of creamy white, as well as the white of albinos. When I talked to the Bella Coola bear hunter, Clayton Mack in 1969, he would specify white markings on grizzly bears when telling stories of hunting episodes.  This seemed to be a way of remembering events surrounding individual bears.

    Individual bears might be noted in stories because of their distinct colour patterns – but they were all recognized as being black bears (Ursus americanus) or grizzly bears (Ursus horribilis) and noted as such in the various indigenous languages. Because of genetic variation there is a greater propensity for certain colour variations to be located in specific regions. Pale blue-grey, coloured individuals of a black bear litter were more common near glaciers in the area from Mount Saint Elias to the Skeena River. Hunters often called these “glacial bears”. George Emmons recorded observations of Tlingit hunters in the 1890s. The Tlingit called all black bears “tseek” but recognized colour phases. They called glacier bears “klate-utardy-seek or klate-ukth-tseek” meaning “snow like black bear” or “tseek noon” meaning “grey black bear” (Emmons 1991:133).

    Figure 6. Kitsumkalem bear hunters. Grant Keddie collection. Early 20th century.

    Based on hunter’s accounts and fur trade records, the all white black bears were once more widely distributed along the mountains of the mainland coast from the Skeena River to the Bella Coola regions but have since been extirpated from much of the area. White bear skins were rarer and therefore more highly valued. Cultural selection in the past may have played a role in reducing the gene pool that allowed for the recessive genes to take affect and produce more white furred bears in some areas.

    It appears from early written accounts that there were a greater occurrence of regional colour and or size variants of both black and grizzly bears (see appendix I). Over hunting in the last one hundred and fifty years may have exterminated some of these regional genetic variants. In 1909, Richard Pocock presents the state of knowledge of non-indigenous peoples about bears of the northern coast forests:

    “The White bear (Ursus Kermodei), a few specimens of which have been shot at points along the extreme northern coast, are confined to a very limited area; but a similar variety, ranging in colour from almost pure white to a dirty grey, are seem or shot occasionally in the Western Cascades from Bella Coola north to Taku River, including the lower reaches of the Skeena, Nass and Stikine rivers. These bears are small in size, and called by the various names of white bear, rock bear, white rock bear, blue bear, glacier bear and ice bear” (Pocock 1909).

    Pike notes in referring to “Ursus Kermoda” in 1910, that: “this little white bear has so far been found only in that part of the coast range of mountains which lies immediately South of the Skeena River and on the adjacent islands known as Gribbell and Princess Royal Islands, and perhaps a dozen specimens in all are to be seen in the museums of North America. It has lately been classified by American naturalists as an entirely distinct species of bear; but there is still no record of any white man having seen this animal in the flesh, although now and then an Indian brings in a skin to one of the small trading posts of the mouth of the Skeena.” (Pike 1910)..

    Holzworth, while on Admiralty Island in 1928, noted that an elderly Indigenous person told him of “a very peculiar type of bear, a dark brown with a yellow stripe which runs all the way down its sides from the shoulders to the rump, about four inches either side of the back bone. He saw two or three hides himself, all from the same locality on Admiralty Island. They were killed by Anderson a white man about fifteen years ago, who found them in the interior of the northern section of the island. An Indian had killed two or three similar ones on Chichagof Isle” (Holzworth 1930:73-74).

    It was generally believed by indigenous peoples that the spirit of a bear (as with other animals) could be acquired as a guardian spirit. Bear spirits were considered one of the more powerful spirits. Clan crests, with social and economic rights, are linked to these early encounters between humans and bears.

    Figure 7. Bear Hunters from Kincolith. Walter Haldane (c.1855-1932) on left Barber Brothers postcard photo. c. 1912-16. Grant Keddie Collection.

    The bear hunter had to purify himself by bathing and fasting. It was important for the hunter to refrain from announcing that he was going bear hunting for it was believed that a bear could hear and understand everything that humans said and be forewarned of its approaching death. When a man killed a bear he and those with him painted their faces and sang a bear song or prayed to the bear as a way of appeasing or thanking it for allowing itself to be killed. When being butchered it was believed that the bear could sing through the body of the hunter. Sometimes certain parts of the black bear would be ritually burned during a prayer ceremony (see Swanton 1908:228-229; Swanton 1905:94-95).

    In 1970, I was told by the late Jack Koster of Canoe Creek a story of an experience of his father in the 1920s when he went hunting with an Indigenous uncle who was an old bear hunter from the Canoe Creek Reserve. After the bear was killed, the old hunter chanted a prayer and “cut off the tip of the nose and tongue and took out the bear’s eyes and eardrums to bury together. They believed that a bear’s spirit would return in the form of a bad man to seek revenge. This was necessary to eliminate the senses so the bear – as the Indians said – ‘will not find me again’.”

    Summary

    The importance of bears in the cultures of Siberia and their similarity to those of cultures of the New World was brought to the forefront of academic discourse by the publication of A.I. Hallowell on Bear Ceremonialism in the Northern Hemisphere (Hallowell 1926).

    On the Eastern Pacific Coast bear imagery can be seen on everything from monumental poles and house screens, to boxes, rattles and combs. These physical objects are a manifestation of a complex way of life that involves Indigenous beliefs and practices. Bears have played a role in the ceremonialism and magico-religous practices of human cultures across the northern forests of the world for thousands of years.

    Indigenous traditions suggest that bears are the shamans of the animal world.  Skinned bears resemble humans. On the northern coast bears are considered ancestors due to the earlier encounters, and sometimes resulting marriages, between transforming bears and humans.  Clan crests, with social and economic rights, are linked to these early encounters between humans and bears (for example see: Swanton 1908:228-229; Swanton 1905:94-95) .

    On the west coast of Vancouver Island, the butchered remains of bears are commonly found in cave and rock shelter sites. One recorded site, that was briefly visited, is reported to have contained 22 bear skulls in four piles. Bears appear to have been, at least, partially butchered in these more remote locations away from village sites (Keddie 1994). There are still stories to be told about human-bear relationships waiting to be revealed by archaeology.

    Black bears with the genetic variants that produce white or partly white furred bears are believed by indigenous peoples to have special spirit powers – but so do all bears. Bears that have unusual markings and more extensive white in their fur may be seen as being of special significance because they occur more rarely. Indigenous peoples, however, did not see all white bears as a separate and distinct species and give them distinct names meaning “spirit bear”. Older traditions show that white markings allowed individual bears to be identified, and that indigenous understanding was much more complex than that presented in the media.

    Non-indigenous people from the cities related to bears in the 1950s in a way that we would find appalling by current standards (see appendix 3). The spotting of white coloured “Spirit bears” or “Ghost bears” is increasingly become a focus of the Tourist industry and sometimes the cause of a romanticized view of the natural world. We need to step back and think about how this behavior will be looked upon 50 years into the future

    Appendix I.  Some Accounts of Bear Diversity on the Northwest Coast

    David Thompson, while travelling in western Canada in the 1798-1807 time period noted that: “The only bears of this country are the small black Bear, with a chance yellow Bear, this latter has a fine fur and trades for three Beavers in barter, when full grown” (Thompson 2009:122). He notes that the black furred bears trade for one or two Beaver skins depending on their size.  As Thompson discusses the grizzly bear elsewhere, it appears he is referring here to the “yellow Bear” as a variation of the black bear.

    Figure 8. A cinnamon coloured black bear with black cubs. Keddie collection.

    Daniel Harmon was an early observer of bears in the Interior of B.C. In 1810, around Ft. St. James, he observes: “The brown and black bear differ little, excepting in their colour. The hair of the former is much finer than that of the latter. They usually flee from a human being. …The brown and the black bear, climb trees, which the grey, never does. Their flesh is not considered so pleasant food as the of the moose, buffalo or deer; but their oil is highly valued by the Natives, as it constitutes an article of their feasts, and serves, also, to oil their bodies, and other things. Occasionally, a bear is found, the colour of which is like that of a white sheep, and the hair is much longer than that of the other kinds which have been mentioned; though in other respects, it differs not at all from the black bears.” (Lamb 1957:260).

    Black, travelling on a branch of the upper Stikine River on August 3, 1824, with an Indigenous  Slave notes bears of a pale white colour.  Black explains “there are Bears, Black, blue or Grizzly & brown of different shades & they all appear large, the Old Slave is by no means inclined to attach them, the other day Mr. Manson & the old Slave in Company saw two Bears of a pale white colour, but the old Gentleman would not consent to attach them, such is the Idea of these Indians regarding Bears” (Rich 1955:153).

    Crompton, who travelled extensively in B.C. in the mid 19th century stated: “The black bear is subject occasionally to albinism like most for the other animals on this coast thus I have seen white (black) bears, white otters, white racoons, white martins and white minks.  The Indians set a great value on the white bear skin & I was shown one  which was supposed to be the paternal originator of the Tsimpsean race after the flood for their tradition of the deluge is that only a woman & a bear were saved on a mountain & that from this peculiar miscegenation the Tshimsean race arose.”  (Crompton 1879:51).

    Frederica De Laguna acquired information from both Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in the territories of Tlingit peoples in the 1930s to 1950s, which shows the confusion of bear descriptions at the time: “The Yakutat people; face a variety of large brown bears and grizzlies. These have never been classified to the satisfaction of biologists, but for the native all these large species are “the bear” (xuts; Boas, 1917, p. 158, xuts), the prize of the intrepid hunter and an important sib crest. The very large, dark grizzed Dall brown bear, Ursus dalli, lives northeast of Yakutat Bay, especially along the Malaspin Glacier. The forester, Jay Williams (1952:138),

    reports this huge bear at Lituya Bay, it may be another variety, or there may be a break in its distribution between Yaktat and Lituya Bays. Apparently confined to the south-eastern side of Yakutat Bay is the Yakutat grizzly, U.nortoni, a large true grizzly with yellowish or golden brown had and dark brown rump and legs, the whole looking whitish from a distance. It seems to range as far south as Lituay Bay (Williams, 1952:138). Also known at Yakutat is the giant brown bear of Kodiak, the Alaska Peninsula and Prince William sound, U. Middendorffi. The Alsek, U. Orgiloides, a cream coloured medium sized bear with long narrow skull, ranges the foreland east of Yakutat, especially along the Ahrnklin, Italia, and Alsek Rivers.  It is not known whether this bear, or the closely related Glacier Bay grizzly, U. Orgilos, is the form found at Lituya Bay. Between Cross Sound and the Alsek delta is the large Townsend grizzly, U. Townsendi, the exact range of which is undefined.

    The black bear (sik), found along the coastal glaciers form Lituya Bay (or Cross Sound) northward to the eastern edge of Prince William Sound or Cape Saint Elias, is very much smaller than the ordinary American black bear. Furthermore, in addition to the usual black and brownish colors, many from the same litter are blue-gray or maltese. These are called glacier bears, U. Americanus emmonsii, formerly Euarctos emmonsee or Ursus glacialis. The Indians make no distinctions, as far as I know, between the color variants, unless what Boas (1891:174) recorded as the “polar bear” (caq, i.e., cax) is really the blueish glacier bear.  A few bones of the black bear were found in the site of Knight Island.” (Laguna 1972:36-37).

    Appendix 2. Bear Traps and Indigenous Laws

    Swanton (1905:58-69) was told the story of a bear hunter and his traps by a Haida, Jimmy Sterling. In telling the story he gets a detailed description of how the traps are constructed. Haida names were provided for each part of the deadfall trap.

    Figure 9a. Grizzly bear in log fall trap. North coast of British Columbia. (RBCM PN15226).

    In the Haida bear path deadfall trap shown in figure 9b, the letters indicate: A- Four posts, two on each side of the bear trail. B-Short cross posts tying each set of vertical posts together. C- Between the posts lays a post on the ground. D- The deadfall log that drops on the bear. E- The suspended end of the deadfall post is held by a loop which passes over a short stick E. Stick E is supported by post B. A rope is fastened to the inner end of stick E and carried down to a notched in stick F which is tied to a stake pounded into the ground on one side of the bear trail. Other cords G are fastened across the two front posts and down to the same loop. The bear steps over the log and comes against these latter cords causing the rope to slip out of the notch and the deadfall log to fall (Swanton 1905:6).

    Figure 9b. Haida bear path deadfall trap. (After Swanton, 1905).

    Koppert gives one of the better explanations of the use, design and traditional laws around the subject of bear traps or “Chim mis yek ”. Koppert was informed that, if one eats “bear meat or venison, one must abstain for two months from eating fish, especially salmon and halibut”.

    In regard to the hunting grounds of bears:  “There are no special districts set aside for hunting. Traps are set in places frequented by the animals. An Indian has full right to an animal trail as long as his traps are there. Once he removes his trap, any other Indian may put his trap there and claim all the animals on the trail. An exception to this law is made with regard to the bear trails. The bears are a very valuable animal to the Indians, and the trail is, therefore, owned by the individual whether he has his trap set or not. No one may hunt on such ‘roads’, even though no trap is set. Such bear trails, as well as creeks in which certain Indians have the sole right to fish with trap-boxes, are called ha-how- thle, meaning: belonging to so and so”.  These (ha- how- thle) are inherited in the same manner as “house grounds”.  They may, however, be ‘leased’, or given away and be lost forever to the family and descendants.  A traveller may not take or capture an animal if traps are set in the vicinity.

    Koppert describes how bears are trapped in the following manner: “poles driven closely together into the ground near a stream where the bears follow the creek. These poles are about four feet high and arranged in a semi-circle with a diameter of about three feet [See Fig. 10]. The top and sides are covered with branches and sod to make the trap and ‘cave’ appear natural and to make the interior dark.  The entrance, at the center of the semi-circle, is just large enough to admit the head and shoulders of the bear. Over the entrance are erected two uprights and a cross-piece. Resting on this cross-piece and projecting about six inches, is a pole reaching back to the farther end of the ‘cave’. A strong string is tied to the inner end of the pole and let down into the ‘cave’; three stakes are driven into the ground at the back of the ‘cave’; to the tops of these stakes and lashed to cross-pieces forming a V …the V is closed by a stick held in place by the pull on the cord which in turn is tied on the ‘tripper’; the ‘tripper’ suspends the weighted log at the entrance of the ‘cave’.  To the same stick, a stout string is tied at the end of which is the bait of salmon. Above the entrance, a log is suspended by a thong from the end of the pole resting on the cross-piece. The log at the other end has a dozen or more other logs resting on the top of it as well as heavy stones. When the bear snatches the fish he releases the string that suspends the weighted log over the entrance, and is crushed under the weight of the fallen log. This effective dead-fall is still commonly used. It either kills the bear outright or so cripples him that he cannot run away.” (Koppert 1910:78-80).

    Figure 10. Nuu-chan-nulth style enclosed baited bear trap. (After Koppert 1910, fig.53).

    In the type of trap shown in figure 10, the bear sticks its head into the cave-like structure and pulls the bait on the rope. The rope pulls a short post out from the edge of a rectangular structure that is holding down, by a rope, one end of a long pole that extends across the cave and over a post across the entrance to the cave. The other end of this post is tied to the large heavy deadfall log. The release of distant end of the long post causes it to flip up over the entrance post causing the deadfall log to come crashing down on the bear.

    Figure 11. Bear Deadfall trap. Dene type. (After Morice 1893, fig. 86).

    Father Morice wrote how the Carrier of the Interior began to ritually prepare “a full month previous to the settling of his snares. During all that time he could not drink from the same vessel as his wife, but had to use a special birch bark drinking cup. The second half of the penitential month was employed in preparing his snares. The omission of these observances was believed to cause the escape of the game after it had been snared. To further allure it into the snares he was making, the hunter used to eat the root of a species of heracleum (tse’le’p in Carrier) of which the black bear is said to be especially fond. Sometimes he would chew and squirt it up with water exclaiming at the same time: Nyustluh! May I snare you!  Once a bear, or indeed any animal, had been secured, it was never allowed to pass a night in its entirety, but must have some limb, hind or fore paws, cut off, as a means of pacifying its fellows irritated by its killing. …The skulls of bears whose flesh had been eaten up are even to-day invariably stuck on a stick or broken branch of a tree. But the aboriginals fail to give any reason for this practice (Morice 1893:107-108).

    In the type of deadfall trap in figure 12, the bear crawls part way into the wooden structure to get the bait on the inner end of a bait stick. The outer end of this bait stick has resting on it a short post holding up the deadfall log. This upright support post is in a notch on the bait post.  When the bear swings the bait post around the short upright support post slips out of its notch and causes the deadfall log to crash down.

    Figure 12. Tahltan Deadfall Trap.

     

    Appendix 3. Humans and Bears of the 1950s

    In the 1950s bears were often seen as entertainment animals with little understanding of their relationship to their natural habitat. As bears lost their fear of humans they mingled together (see figure 13). When I camped in Banff and Jasper as a child it was common to see large line-ups of cars on the highway feeding bears. Ice cream cones were their favorite treat. My father would drive us to the local open garbage dumps where large number of bears came at dusk (figure 14a&b). In one incident a large bear climbed up onto the front of our car and looked at us through the windshield. My father (not a “bear whisperer”) blasted his car horn causing him to be required to explain later how his company car received some very large scrape marks down its entire front. We know today that feeding of wild bears usually ends in them having to be shot. We need to continually educate people not to do this.

    Figure 13. Black bear with four cubs at Jasper Train station c. 1935. Keddie Post Card Collection.

    Figure 14a&b. Bears at the Banff (above) and Jasper (below) Garbage Dumps in the 1950s


    References

    Cove, John J. and George F. McDonad (eds). 1987. Tricksters, Shamans and Heroes. Tsimshian Narratives I. Canadian Museum of Civilization. Mercury Series. Directorate. Paper No. 3.

    Crockford, Susan J. 2006. Ryths of Life: Thyroid Hormone and the Origin of Species. Trafford Publishing.

    Crockford, Susan J. 2003. Thyroid hormone phenotypes and hominid evolution: a new paradigm implicates pulsatile thyroid hormone secretion in speciation and adaptation changes. International Journal of Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A 135(1):105-129.

    Crompton, Pym Nevins. 1879.  RBCM Archives Additional Manuscript 2778. Natural History, pages 50-52.

    Daily Colonist. 1911. Reports on Game Exhibit at Vienna. March 9:15.

    Daily Colonist. 1912a. Ursus Kermodei. November 23:6.

    Daily Colonist. 1912b. Will Pay $250 For A Kermode Cream Bear. Nov. 17.

    Daily Colonist. 1905. Museum Curator Gets High Honors. February 1:9.

    Daily Colonist. 1925. White Bears Capture Ends Savants Dispute. January 14:5.

    De Laguna, Frederica 1972. Yakutat. Land and It Peoples. Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology. Vol. 7 part 1.

    Emmons, George Thornton. 1991. The Tlingit Indians. Edited with additions by Frederica de Laguna and a biography by Jean Low. Douglas & MacIntrye, Vancovuer/Toronto. American Museum of Natural History, New York.

    Emmons, George Thornton. 1911. The Tahltan Indians. University of Pennsylvania. The Museum Anthropological Publications, Vol. IV, No.1. Philadelphia.

    Golder, F. A. 1907. A Kadiak Island Story: The White-Faced Bear. Journal of American Folk-Lore. Vol. XX. No. LXXIX, Oct. to Dec. pp. 296-299.

    Hatler, David F. David W. Nagorson and Alison M. Beal. 2008. Carnivores of British Columbia. Royal B.C. Museum Handbook. Vol. 5. The Mammals of British Columiba. Royal B.C. Museum Victoria, Canada.

    Hallowell. A. Irving.  1926. Bear Ceremonialism in the Northern Hemisphere. American  Anthropologist. New Series 28:1-175.

    Hedrick, Philip W and Kermit Ritland. 2011. “Population Genetics of the White-Phased ‘Spirit’ Black Bear of British Columbia,” Evolution vol. 66, no. 2.

    Holzworth, John M. 1930. The Wild Grizzlies of Alaska. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, The Knickerbocker Press, New York.

    Klinka, Dan R. and Thomas E. Reimchen. 2009.  “Adaptive Coat Colour Polymorphism in the Kermode Bear of Coastal British Columbia,” Biological Journal of the Linnean Society vol. 98, no. 3.

    Koppert, Vincent. 1910. Contributions to Clayoquot Ethnology. The Catholic University of America. Anthropological Series. No. 1. Washington, D.C.

    Lamb, W. Kaye ed.  1957.  Sixteen Years in the Indian Country. The Journal of Daniel Williams Harmon. 1800-1816. Edited with Introduction by W. Kaye Lamb. The MacMillan Company of Canada Limited.

    Marshall, H.D. and Kermit Ritland. 2002. “Genetic Diversity and Differentiation of Kermode Bear Populations,” Molecular Ecology vol. 11, no. 4.

    Maud, Ralph. 1993. The Girl Who Married the Bear and The history of Kbi’shount, pages 30-41. In: The Porcupine Hunter and other Stories: The Original Tsimshian Text of Henry W. Tate. Newly translated from the original manuscripts and annotated by Ralf Maud. Talon Books.

    Merriam, C. Hart.  1918.  Review of the Grizzly and Big Brown Bears of North America (Genus ursus) with Description of a New Genus, Vetlarctos. North American Fauna: February 1918, Number 41: pp. 1 – 137. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Bureau of Biological Survey. Government Printing Press, Washington.

    Morice, A.G. 1893. Notes archaeological, industrial and sociological on the Western Dénés: with an ethnographical sketch of the same. Transactions of the Canadian Institute, Vol. IV, part 1, no.7, 1892-93.

    Niblack, A. P. 1889. “Ethnology of the Coast Indian tribes of Alaska.” Proceedings of the United States National Museum. 11 (718):328.

    Pocock, Richard J. 1909.  Hunting and Fishing, Here and Elsewhere. Victoria Daily Colonist December 12, 1909.

    Piero, Viscounti, Stewart H. M. Butchart, Thomas M. Brookes, Penny F. Langhammer, Daniel Marnewick, Sheila Vergara, Allberto Yanosky and James E.M. Watson. 2019. Science Vol. 364. Issue 6437:239-241.

    Pike, Warburton Pike. 1910. The Big Game of British Columbia. The Victoria Colonist, Nov 13, 1910, p.6.

    Puckett, Emily E., Paul D. Etter, Eric A. Johnson, Lori S. Eggert. 2015. Phylogeographic Analyses of American Black Bears (Ursus americanus) Suggest Four Glacial Refugia and Complex Patterns of Postglacial Admixture. Molecular Biology and Evolution, Vol. 32, Issue 9, 1 September 2015:2338-2350.

    Rich, E.E. (ed), 1955. Black’s Rocky Mountain Journal. 1824. The Publication of the Hudson’s Bay Company Record Society, XVIII, London.

    Reimchen, Thomas E. and Dan R. Klinka. 2017. “Niche Differentiation between Coat Colour Morphs in the Kermode Bear (Ursidae) of Coastal British Columbia,” Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.

    Ritland, K, C. Newton and H.D. Marshall. 2001. “Inheritance and Population Structure of the White-phased ‘Kermode’ black Bear,” Current Biology vol. 11, no. 18.

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    Sapir, Edward 1915. A Sketch of the Social Organization of the Nass River Indians. Canada Department of Mines. Geological Survey. Museum Bulletin No.19. Anthropological Series, No.7. October 15, 1915. Ottawa. Government Printing Bureau.

    Swanton, John R.   1908. The Story of the Grizzly- Bear Crest of the Te’qoedi. Tlingit Myths and Text. Smithsonian Institution. Bureau of American Ethnology. Bulletin 39. Washington D.C.

    Swanton, John R. 1905.  A Story Told to Accompany Bear Songs.   Haida Myths and Text. Skidegate Dialect. Smithsonian Institution. Bureau of American Ethnology. Bulletin 29, Washington D.C.

    I recently spent an enjoyable day hunting Common Wall Lizards to help Camosun College students with a research project. Lizards were easily caught with nooses, by hand, and using elastic bands. These lizards are to be used in a diet study to see whether there is any pattern between historic and current arthropod diversity in pitfall trap samples, and to determine what lizards are selecting from the available invertebrates.

    We sampled at Haliburton Farm in Saanich, here on Vancouver Island. Lizards were everywhere – and that is no exaggeration. Every few steps would cause one or more lizards to skitter way into the forest of potted plants and garden veggies growing at the farm.

    My Google Earth Map totally under estimates the number of lizards because I couldn’t map the location of each one. There were hundreds of lizards in each section of the farm. Adults were predominant in the heavily modified areas, and yearlings seemed to be occupying peripheral areas that were almost semi natural – young ones likely avoided the main farm to avoid cannibalism.

    The tree and a closer view of the knot-hole where the Wall Lizard sought refuge.

    One lizard stuck out in my memory – because it was trying to shed the “wall lizard” stereotype by living in a tree. I spotted an adult male well up a tree – and as I approached, it bolted into a knot-hole. The knot-hole led to a significant cavity inside – I used a long dry grass stem to get an idea how large the cavity was. It was at least 20 cm long, plenty of room for an adult Wall Lizard. Years ago Richard Hebda noted that Common Wall Lizards had started to occupy grassy habitat as well as the typical more solid habitat. This lizard seemed more interested in becoming a Tree Lizard – sorry Podarcis, you can change habitat, but not your taxonomy. Luckily Urosaurus ornatus does not live here and won’t have to deal with this arboreally inclined invader.

     

    The armoured glyptodonts and ankylosaurs are one of my favourite examples of convergent evolution, the evolutionary phenomenon in which distantly related animals evolve similar structures or body shapes. Ankylosaurs are the armoured dinosaurs covered in bony plates called osteoderms, and are one of my favourite groups of dinosaurs. Glyptodonts, on the other hand, are mammals – they’re an exinct group of giant, herbivorous armadillos that disappeared about 10 000 years ago. The last time glyptodonts and ankylosaurs shared a common ancestor – a great-great-great-great-grandparent, if you will – was over 300 million years ago, but these two groups of animals evolved similar anatomical features. Most unusually, both ankylosaurs and glyptodonts evolved weaponized, sledgehammer-like tails.

    Click image to enlarge

    In this study, I worked with my colleague (and former postdoctoral supervisor) Dr. Lindsay Zanno at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences to figure out whether or not ankylosaurs and glyptodonts had followed similar evolutionary trajectories when evolving their unusual tail weaponry. Lindsay and I have previously worked on understanding the evolution of bony tail weapons across amniotes (turtles, lizards, crocodilians, birds, mammals, and their extinct relatives) and found that certain anatomical features like armour, large body size, and a stiff backbone were correlated with bony tail weaponry. For our new study, we dug deeper into the anatomy of ankylosaurs and glyptodonts. We wanted to know whether or not ankylosaurs and glyptodonts evolved some of their distinct features in the same way – did certain features evolve before others in both groups? By studying fossils in museums around the world, we were able to map features onto the family trees for ankylosaurs and glyptodonts and see at what points different features first evolved. It turned out that, despite a few differences, the overall pattern was the same: both groups evolved armour, large body size, and stiff backs before weaponizing their tails, and tails became stiff before the tip of the tail was expanded.

    What does this similar pattern tell us about how or why tail clubs evolved in glyptodonts and ankylosaurs? When we see similar adaptations in unrelated species, it tells us that there might only be a few good solutions to the challenges that nature throws our way, or in other words, similar features evolve when species are faced with similar selective pressures. In this case,

    Lindsay and I speculate that a heavy, expanded tail tip might not be able to evolve unless the tail is already modified to support the extra weight. Similarly, swinging a heavy tail club around might be easier if you have a stiff backbone to help brace against impacts. And lastly, the rarity of species with tail clubs in the fossil record also suggests that tail clubs aren’t easy structures to evolve, and might only be able to evolve when a lot of other anatomical features (like armour) are already in place.

     


    Funding for this research was generously provided by NSERC, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and the Jurassic Foundation.

    Arbour VM, Zanno LE. 2019. Tail weaponry in ankylosaurs and glyptodonts: an example of a rare but strongly convergent phenotype. The Anatomical Record.

    Abstract: The unusual clubbed tails of glyptodonts among mammals and ankylosaurines among dinosaurs most likely functioned as weapons of intraspecific combat or interspecific defense and are characterized by stiffening of the distal tail and, in some taxa, expansion of the distal tail tip. Although similarities in tail weaponry have been noted as a potential example of convergent evolution, this hypothesis has not been tested quantitatively, particularly with metrics that can distinguish convergence from long‐term stasis, assess the relative strength of convergence, and identify potential constraints in the appearance of traits during the stepwise, independent evolution of these structures. Using recently developed metrics of convergence within a phylomorphospace framework, we document that convergence accounts for over 80% of the morphological evolution in traits associated with tail weaponry in ankylosaurs and glyptodonts. In addition, we find that ankylosaurs and glyptodonts shared an independently derived, yet constrained progression of traits correlated with the presence of a tail club, including stiffening of the distal tail as a precedent to expansion of the tail tip in both clades. Despite differences in the anatomical construction of the tail club linked to lineage‐specific historical contingency, these lineages experienced pronounced, quantifiable convergent evolution, supporting hypotheses of functional constraints and shared selective pressures on the evolution of these distinctive weapons.

    Last summer my wife and I bought a new car – it is less than a year old and has already transported quite an assemblage of BC species (Southern Resident Killer Whale foetus, Mule Deer, River Otter, Red Fox, Northern Alligator Lizard, Common Wall Lizard, Commander Skate, and 49 species of birds – including the museum’s first Brown Booby). The most recent passenger was a 1.2 meter Shortfin Mako Shark (Isurus oxyrhinchus) which easily fit into the back of a 2018 Nissan Leaf. Chalk up another reason why electric cars are awesome.

    The Mako Shark (wrapped in plastic) arrives at the RBCM loading bay.

    As far as I know, this is the second Shortfin Mako Shark specimen from BC waters. The first specimen, from 185 nautical miles west of Cape St. James (Haida Gwaii), was made into a taxidermy mount and only a few of its teeth were deposited in the Royal BC Museum collection (993-00039-001). You have to wonder how often they range this far north?

    The mako shark thawed and ready for a long soak in formaldehyde.

    This new mako, found September 27, 2016 on shore in Florencia Bay, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is almost perfect. It had been studied by Jackie King (Fisheries and Oceans Canada), tissue samples were taken,  and then was shuttled to the Institute of Ocean Sciences (IOS) in Sidney. I picked up the fish at IOS and kept it frozen until I had the time to prepare the shark for the Royal BC Museum collection.  Mako sharks are most streamlined representatives of the Family Lamnidae, the same family containing the Great White Shark. It was a thrill to see this amazing fish up close. Its only damage came from scavengers – the left eye is missing, and something – a wolf(?) – had ripped at the gills on the left side.

    Tooth rows are easy to see in the jaws of this Shortfin Mako.

    The teeth are amazing – and let’s face it – this is what most people want to see on a shark. But have a look at the tail! Without an efficient tail – the teeth would have nothing to bite. Mako sharks are amazingly fast and almost appear nervous when they are swimming – they are certainly the Formula-e cars or jet fighters of the shark world.

    The base of the tail on our new mako shark.

    Makos have a lateral keel at the base of the tail which allows the fish to efficiently oscillate its tail fin from side to side. In lateral view the base of the tail is narrow – in dorsal / ventral view – the tail base is broad. Salmon Sharks (Lamna ditropis), Porbeagles (Lamna nasus) and Great White Sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) have this same feature – it is all about efficient locomotion – hydrodynamics which submarine designers envy. Even the Ninespine Stickleback (Pungitius2) has this basic tail structure – but on a far smaller fish. Evolution is awesome.

    Enough fish worship – back to the task at hand. Preservation of a large fish. You have to make sure the internal organs and muscles fix – and since formaldehyde takes time to infiltrate tissues – you inject 10% formaldehyde deep into the muscles to make sure the specimen fixes from the outside in, and inside out.

    If the specimen does not fix fairly rapidly – then decay of the tissues begins. The specimen degrades and gas is produced. A gas-filled specimen displaces fluid and can result in a bit of a mess in the lab. When I was a student, we put a sizable sample of suckers in a vat of formaldehyde, closed the lid, and then left them to fix. Oily suckers are always a challenge to fix, and these were no exception. They bloated over night and displaced formaldehyde – which spilled out of the vat. The spill was large enough to draw the attention of the University of Manitoba’s Workplace Health And Safety team. Ooops.

    Reptiles also can be tricky to fix – their skin slows the uptake of formaldehyde. As a dewy-eyed student I was keen to check out all the specimens in the vertebrates lab – and was particularly happy to find a forgotten jar with dark brown glass – a mystery. I had to know what was inside. When I reached in and grabbed the snake – it simply fell apart – ribs straining through my fingers. The mouth and cloaca allowed formaldehyde to enter and so the snake’s head and tail preserved well. Its body though, had rotted from the inside out and was mush.

     

    The rattle from the rotten Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus).

    I now use a needle to perforate reptile legs and tails to make sure formaldehyde infiltrates everywhere. I also inject 10% formaldehyde into the body cavity to make sure the internal organs of reptiles fix rapidly.

    This mako shark was no different – I injected about 500 ml formaldehyde into the body cavity to make sure the internal organs fixed well – then left for the weekend. After a day in formaldehyde, the body already was rubbery and well on its way to making a decent specimen (yes I came to work on a Saturday to check on my precious). It also was not floating – that is a really good sign that the specimen is fixing well and not filling with decay gases.

    The mako shark after a day in formaldehyde.

    Once the mako shark is fixed (maybe three weeks in formaldehyde just to be sure), then it will get a rinse in water for a few days, and will go into a vat of alcohol for permanent storage. Alcohol is far easier on the eyes and nose than formaldehyde. Ethanol or Isopropanol are our preservatives of choice. Call me crazy, but I am guessing this shark will be a popular item during museum collection tours, so it better be stored in a manner that is fairly safe for visitors. I may as well get a few more larger fishes preserved while the formaldehyde vat is fresh – next up is a 1 meter Blue Shark (Prionace glauca) and a similarly sized Pacific Sleeper Shark (Somniosus pacificus).

    Museums contain the commonplace, normal, typical specimens as well as the specimens we call TYPES which serve as the golden standard when doing systematics research. But the real attention goes to the oddities – they seem to naturally draw your eyes away from all other specimens. Leucistic birds, albinos, a marmot with overgrown incisors, an Orca with nasty dental issues, an Orca with spinal deformity – these are the specimens that get the WOW vote on collections tours.

    Albino Starlings in the Royal BC Museum Ornithology collection – abnormal specimens certainly do catch your eye.

    A year or so ago we were clearing out an area we referred to as Room 17 (our version of Area 51), and found jaw fragments from a Sperm Whale mixed with the bones of other whales. Sperm Whales have teeth along the lower jaw but no teeth along the upper jaw and Sperm Whale jaws are long and straight. It does not take a scientific eye to notice what is wrong with these jaws.

    The section of Sperm Whale jaw in the Royal BC Museum collection.

    Both dentary bones are hooked to the left and it looked like the teeth were fairly normal with decent sized sockets. We have no idea what the upper lip looked like – but I assume these jaws just hooked out of alignment and hung out to the side of the animal. What a drag that would have been. The jaws are large – so this animal was able to feed – the teeth towards the back of the jaw probably functioned normally and it certainly could have performed suction feeding to catch fishes and cephalopods.

    Strangely enough, there is no information with these jaws to say when and where the animal was caught. Whaling here in BC ended within my lifetime (including the live capture of Orcas as a form of whaling – some would say jailing) – so I can only assume this jaw was collected pre-1970s when whaling stations were still actively processing Sperm Whales.

    Sperm Whales with normal straight jaws (Image A-09221 (top) and Image A-09220 (bottom) courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives).

    Jaw deformities are not that rare in Sperm Whales – there are several reports published and some of the deformities are shocking – some are stubby, others in a tight spiral like a conispiral snail shell (see: Murie 1865, Thomson 1867, Nasu 1958, Spaul 1964, and Nakamura 1968).

    This specimen is not cataloged in the Royal BC Museum Mammalogy collection, there is no record in our database, and no mention in the museum’s annual reports. Perhaps whaling records will mention this animal – I can’t imagine this whale was processed in the ‘fishery’ and the set of jaws saved with no comment made of the deformity. Time to go CSI on this dentary record.

    To dig deeper:

    MURIE, J. 1865. On deformity of the lower jaw in the cachalot (Physeter macrocephalus, Linn.). Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1865: 396-396.

    NAKAMURA, K. 1968. Studies on the sperm whale with deformed lower jaw with special reference to its feeding. Bulletin of the Kanagawa Prefecture Museum of Natural History, 1: 13-27.

    NASU, K. 1958. Deformed lower jaw of sperm whale. Scientific Reports of the Whales Research Institute, 13: 211-212.

    SPAUL, E. A. 1964. Deformity in the lower jaw of the sperm whale (Physeter catodon). Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 142: 391-395.

    THOMSON, J. H. 1867. Letter  relating to the occasional deformity of the lower jaw of the sperm whale. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1867: 246-247.

    When reptiles and amphibians take shelter from the cold, they seek refuge above freezing, but not too warm – maybe 2 to 4°C. If it is too cold, tissues freeze and for most animals, this is fatal. Death comes from ice crystal growth which essentially shreds body cells at a microscopic level. Some animals like the Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica) are freezetolerant, and consequently are our northern most ‘herpetile’ along the coast of the Arctic Ocean/Beaufort Sea.

    Wood Frog photographed in a ditch near Winnipeg.

    If the refuge is too warm, the animal’s metabolism burns stored fat and the animal loses weight. My father had a pet Hermann’s Tortoise (Testudo hermanni) when he was a child – and in winter, his parents put the tortoise in a box, surrounded it with hay, and placed it in the boiler room to hibernate. The boiler room was too warm for hibernation – the tortoise starved or died of dehydration. Consequently, my grandparents bought a new tortoise each year after burying its ‘hibernating’ predecessor. I am not shore how many tortoises they went through.

    Hermann’s Tortoise image from Wikipedia.

    On March 5th (2019) I received a set of photos of a frozen adult Wall Lizard found by John Hunter, a Colwood resident. It appeared that the cold, frosty nights of Late February and Early March 2019 had claimed at least one lizard life. The lizard had taken refuge in John’s gardening shoes. Its body was placed on a rock in the garden – presumably nature would deal with the remains. March 6th – the lizard awoke and ran off.

    Resurrection? No. The Common Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis), like the Wood Frog, has a physiological ace up its sleeve. It can freeze up to 28% of its body water and still survive. As long as the cold snap is not too long or too severe, they usually survive without trouble. The mild winters of southern Vancouver Island were almost tailor-made for these invaders.

    However, shoes obviously were not ideal shelter from the cold. Shoes keep our feet warm because our feet produce heat – the shoe only slows heat loss to the environment. Has anyone ever said to you, “Here, this blanket will warm you up.” Truth is, a blanket doesn’t provide heat, only slows heat loss – just like winter boots. With no source of heat, and with the open cuff/collar, footwear would act more like a sci-fi cryo-tube than a cozy refuge. At best the shoes shielded the lizard from scavengers.

    I left my gardening boots outside last week – they were a bit too muddy to bring indoors. But since lizards are still about 60 meters north of my garden – I don’t think I will find any lost souls lining the insole.

    Robert A. Cannings¹

    1 Royal British Columbia Museum, 675 Belleville St, Victoria, BC, V8W 9W2, Canada

    Abstract
    Since Corbet’s thorough 1979 overview of Canadian Odonata, hundreds of regional works on taxonomy, faunistics, distribution, life history, ecology and behaviour have been written. Canada records 214 species of Odonata, an increase of 20 since the 1979 assessment. Estimates of unrecorded species are small; this reflects the well-known nature of the fauna. A major impetus for surveys and analyses of the status of species is the work of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada which provides a scientifically sound classification of wildlife species potentially at risk. As of 2017, six species have been designated “Endangered” and two “Special Concern” (only five of which are officially listed under the Federal Species at Risk Act (SARA)). The Order provides a good example of molecular bar-coding effort in insects, as many well-accepted morphological species in Canada have been bar-coded to some degree. However, more bar-coding of accurately identified specimens of many species is still required, especially in most of the larger families, which have less than 70% of their species bar-coded. Corbet noted that the larvae of 15 Canadian species were unknown, but almost all larvae are now well, or cursorily, described. Extensive surveys have greatly improved our understanding of species’ geographical distributions, habitat requirements and conservation status but more research is required to better define occurrence, abundance and biological details for almost all species.

    Keywords
    barcoding, biodiversity assessment, Biota of Canada, climate change, identification, Odonata, species at risk

    Read full article

    Jade Savage¹, Art Borkent³, Fenja Brodo¹¹, Jeffey M. Cumming², Gregory Curler⁴, Douglas C. Currie⁵, Jeremy R. deWaard⁶, Joel F. Gibson³, Martin Hauser⁷, Louis Laplante⁸, Owen Lonsdale², Stephen A. Marshall⁹, James E. O’Hara², Bradley J. Sinclair¹⁰, Jeffey H. Skevington²

    1 Bishop’s University, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada 2 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 3 Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada 4 Mississippi Entomological Museum, Mississippi State University, Starksville, Mississippi, USA 5 Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 6 Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada 7 California Department of Food and Agriculture, Sacramento, California, USA 8 Unaffiated, Montreal, Quebec, Canada 9 University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada 10 Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 11 Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

    Abstract
    The Canadian Diptera fauna is updated. Numbers of species currently known from Canada, total Bar-code Index Numbers (BINs), and estimated numbers of undescribed or unrecorded species are provided for each family. An overview of recent changes in the systematics and Canadian faunistics of major groups is provided as well as some general information on biology and life history. A total of 116 families and 9620 described species of Canadian Diptera are reported, representing more than a 36% increase in species numbers since the last comparable assessment by JF McAlpine et al. (1979). Almost 30,000 BINs have so far been obtained from flies in Canada. Estimates of additional number of species remaining to be documented in the country range from 5200 to 20,400.

    Keywords
    biodiversity assessment, Biota of Canada, Diptera, flies, systematics

    Read full article

    David C.A. Blades¹

    1 Research Associate, Royal British Columbia Museum, 675 Belleville St, Victoria, BC, V8W 9W2, Canada

    Abstract
    The Mecoptera are represented in Canada by 25 extant species in four families, an increase of three species since the prior assessment in 1979. An additional 18 or more species and one family are expected to occur in Canada based on distributional records, recent collections and DNA analyses. The Bar-code of Life Data System currently lists 24 Bar-code Index Numbers for Canadian Mecoptera. There are nine species of fossil Mecoptera known from Canada

    Keywords
    biodiversity assessment, Biota of Canada, Mecoptera, scorpionfly

    Read full article

    James Miskelly¹, Steven M. Paiero²

    1 Royal British Columbia Museum, 675 Belleville St., Victoria, British Columbia, V8W 9W2, Canada 2 School of Environmental Sciences, 50 Stone Rd. East, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1, Canada

    Abstract
    In the last 40 years, the number of species in the orthopteroid orders has increased by ~10% from that known in 1979. The largest order, the Orthoptera, has increased from 205 to 235 species known in Canada. The number of Blattodea has increased from 14 to 18 species, while Dermaptera has increased from 5 to 6 species. The number of species of Mantodea (3) and Phasmida (1) known in Canada have remained unchanged. Most new species records reported in Canada since 1979 have resulted from new collections along the periphery of the range of more widespread species. Some species reported since 1979 are recent introductions to Canada, including species restricted to homes or other heated buildings. The taxonomy of these orders has also changed, with only the Dermaptera having maintained its order definition since the 1979 treatment. Additional orthopteroid species are likely to occur in Canada, particularly in the orders Orthoptera and Blattodea. DNA bar-codes are available for more than 60% of the species known to occur in Canada

    Keywords
    biodiversity assessment, Biota of Canada, Blattodea, cockroaches, crickets, Dermaptera, earwigs, grasshoppers, katydids, mantids, Mantodea, Orthoptera, Phasmida, stick insects, termites

    Read full article

    David W. Langor¹

    1 Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, 5320 – 122 St. NW, Edmonton, Alberta, T6H 3S5, Canada

    Abstract
    Based on data presented in 29 papers published in the Biota of Canada Special Issue of ZooKeys and data provided herein about Zygentoma, more than 44,100 described species of terrestrial arthropods (Arachnida, Myriapoda, Insecta, Entognatha) are now known from Canada. This represents more than a 34% increase in the number of described species reported 40 years ago (Danks 1979a). The most speciose groups are Diptera (9620 spp.), Hymenoptera (8757), and Coleoptera (8302). Less than 5% of the fauna has a natural Holarctic distribution and an additional 5.1% are non-native species. A conservatively estimated 27,000–42,600 additional species are expected to be eventually discovered in Canada, meaning that the total national species richness is ca. 71,100–86,700 and that currently 51–62% of the fauna is known. Of the most diverse groups, those that are least known, in terms of percent of the Canadian fauna that is documented, are Acari (31%), Thsanoptera (37%), Hymenoptera (46%), and Diptera (32–65%). All groups but Pauropoda have DNA barcodes based on Canadian material. More than 75,600 Barcode Index Numbers have been assigned to Canadian terrestrial arthropods, 63.5% of which are Diptera and Hymenoptera. Much work remains before the Canadian fauna is fully documented, and this will require decades to achieve. In particular, greater and more strategic investment in surveys and taxonomy (including DNA barcoding) is needed to adequately document the fauna.

    Keywords
    Arachnida, biodiversity assessment, Biota of Canada, checklists, Entognatha, Hexapoda, Insecta, Myriapoda, surveys, taxonomy, Zygentoma

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    David C.A. Blades¹

    1 Research Associate, Royal British Columbia Museum, 675 Belleville St, Victoria, BC, V8W 9W2, Canada

    Abstract
    The Neuroptera of Canada consists of 101 extant species, an increase of 26 (35%) since the previous assessment of the fauna in 1979. More than 48 additional species are believed to occur in Canada based largely on recent DNA evidence and new distribution records. The Bar-code Of Life Data System (BOLD) currently includes 141 Bar-code Index Numbers (BINs) for Canadian Neuroptera. Canadian fossils have thus far yielded 15 species in three families of Neuroptera.

    Keywords
    antlion, aphidlion, biodiversity assessment, Biota of Canada, lacewing, mantidfly, Neuroptera, owlfly

    Read full article

    Robert G. Foottit¹, H. Eric L. Maw¹, Joel H. Kits¹, Geoffey G. E. Scudder²

    1 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa Research and Development Centre and Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes, K. W. Neatby Bldg., 960 Carling Ave., Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0C6, Canada 2 Department of Zoology and Biodiversity Research Centre, University of British Columbia, 6270 University Boulevard, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z4, Canada

    Abstract
    Th Canadian Hemiptera (Sternorrhyncha, Auchenorrhyncha, and Heteroptera) fauna is reviewed, which currently comprises 4011 species, including 405 non-native species. DNA bar-codes available for Canadian specimens are represented by 3275 BINs. Th analysis was based on the most recent checklist of Hemiptera in Canada (Maw et al. 2000) and subsequent collection records, literature records and compilation of DNA bar-code data. It is estimated that almost 600 additional species remain to be discovered among Canadian Hemiptera.

    Keywords
    Barcode Index Number (BIN), biodiversity assessment, Biota of Canada, DNA barcodes, Hemiptera, true bugs

    Read full article

    David C.A. Blades¹

    1 Research Associate, Royal British Columbia Museum, 675 Belleville St, Victoria, BC, V8W 9W2, Canada

    Abstract
    There are eight species in two families of Raphidioptera known from Canada, an increase of one species since the prior assessment in 1979. Another four species are likely to occur in Canada based on DNA evidence and distributional records. The Bar-code of Life Data System currently lists ten Bar-code Index Numbers for Canadian Raphidioptera.

    Keywords
    biodiversity assessment, Biota of Canada, Raphidioptera, snakeflies

    Read full article

    Robb Bennett¹, Gergin Blagoev², Claudia Copley¹

    1 Department of Entomology, Natural History Section, Royal British Columbia Museum, 675 Belleville Street, Victoria, British Columbia, V8W 9W2, Canada 2 Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph, 579 Gordon Street, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1, Canada

    Abstract
    In 1979 nearly 1400 spider species in 32 families either had been recorded (1249) or were believed to occur (~140) in Canada. Twenty years later, although significant progress had been made in survey efforts in some regions, Canada’s spider inventory had only increased by approximately 7% to roughly 1500 species known or expected to occur. Th family count had increased to 38 but only two additions were truly novel (fie family additions and one family deletion were the result of advances in family-level systematics). The first comprehensive taxonomic checklist of Canadian spider species was published in 2010 documenting the regional distributions of 1376 species representing 42 families (three novel since 1999). From 2010 through 2017 new national records steadily accumulated resulting in the current (2018) Canadian inventory of 1477 species classified in 45 families (one novel since 2010). Although there has been close to a 20% increase in the number of spider species recorded in Canada since 1979, much greater increases have occurred in some of the regional species checklists, indicating increasing knowledge of the regional distribution of species previously recorded elsewhere in Canada. For example the regional checklists for Newfoundland, British Columbia, and Prince Edward Island have increased by 69%, 339%, and 520%, respectively. The national and regional increases reflect significant advances in the fist two decades of the 21 st Century in spider faunistics research in previously under-sampled habitats and regions and the development of molecular techniques and consequent bar-coding of spiders. Of the 1477 species recorded in Canada, 92% have been successfully DNA bar-coded resulting in 1623 unique Bar-code Index Numbers (BINs). At least 25 of the BINs are associated with relatively easily distinguished but undescribed morpho-species. Th majority, however, appear to indicate the existence of many cryptic species within Canada’s known spider fauna. Thse data, coupled with the fact that novel Canadian or  even Nearctic spider species records (including of undescribed species) continue to accumulate annually (especially in habitat-diverse regions such as British Columbia), suggest that Canada’s tally of spider species may approach or even exceed 1800.

    Keywords
    Araneae, BINs, biodiversity assessment, Biota of Canada, checklist, classification, DNA barcoding, faunistics, spiders

    See full article

    Lettuce is shipped to Canada regularly. Plastic-wrapped-produce crosses our border every day – it is inspected and then it goes to grocery stores across the province. The lettuce then gets purchased, bagged and taken home – sometimes for sandwiches, salads, or maybe for juicing.

    Green goodness at a local grocery store.

    This November 27th, a bag of leafy goodness was opened after crossing the international border with a stowaway – a small frog in lettuce from California. It emerged – and was taken to the local SPCA. From there it was sent to me at the Royal BC Museum for identification.

    The stowaway was sent to me in a container filled with damp moss.

    On first glance this refugee looks like our Pacific Chorus Frog (Pseudacris regilla) which ranges south of BC to California. The taxonomy of the Pacific Chorus Frog is quite contentious though. Historically only one species was defined – P. regilla. In recent years, mitochondrial DNA suggested three species exist in California in what was once a wide-ranging Pacific Chorus Frog. Based on mtDNA, our Pacific Chorus Frog was thought to only range into extreme northwestern California. To the south, the Sierran Chorus Frog (P. sierrae) ranged across central California, and Baja California Chorus Frogs (P. hypochondriaca) were scattered across southern third of that state. If that wasn’t enough to upset a frog’s personal identity, work in 2016 placed the Pacific Chorus Frogs in a new genus Hyliola. Then in 2017, after referring back to a 2014 analysis of nuclear DNA, the three species were once again lumped into Pseudacris regilla. Or is it Hyliola? I bet the frog is confused too.

    The range of the three chorus frog species based on mtDNA, from: http://www.californiaherps.com/frogs/maps/pregillamap3species3.jpg

    Call me lazy, but if they are all lumped into one species – P. regilla – that makes my life easier. If the Pacific Chorus Frog was split into three species, then either I’d need to take a tissue sample to get an identification (and the frog would not enjoy that), or I’d need to know exactly where the lettuce came from. Odds are grocery records are pretty tight in this era of E. coli-tainted tracheophytes, but I have some doubt we’d ever know exactly where a given bag of lettuce originated.

    A Pacific Chorus Frog from just north of the Nighthawk border crossing in the Okanagan.

    Let’s just assume we are lumping all the Pacific coast Pseudacris into one species – then this refugee regilla is the same species as our Chorus frogs in BC. If this is the same species, can I just let it go? No way. It is genetically distinct since it comes from so far away, and there always is the risk of disease transmissions posed by exotic frogs. At least this Californian frog didn’t come from a pet shop where it could encounter a range of other exotic frogs and their diseases.

    To be honest, I am really impressed that the frog was contained in the first place – people have a habit of releasing stowaways rather than turning them in for examination. Years ago a couple returned home from Mexico and found a red and black snake in their luggage. The snake didn’t seem well, but they released it somewhere in Metchosin. Presumably that snake died, but if it had been a gravid female, it could have deposited 7-10 (or more) eggs, and we’d have an instant population. What species had infiltrated their luggage? I have no idea – it could well have been venomous. When I was an undergrad student, a red and black snake appeared in the pet trade in Winnipeg – it was labeled Honduran Milk Snake and looked like this. I assumed it was harmless based on the old rhyme:

    Red-on-Black, Safe for Jack.

    Red-on-Yellow, Kill a fellow.

    I was wrong – the snake in the pet shop was rear-fanged and bit me. It was my first (and currently only) venomous snake bite. Bottom line is: Better to be safe than sorry. And as a member of IMISWG (Inter-Ministry Invasive Species Working Group) we always say that it is better to not release something, than try to clear out exotic species later. Turn in stowaways to your local SPCA or Natural Resource Officers. It is safer for the environment. Frogs obviously are harmless, but if you think you have something dangerous in your groceries – an Eyelash Viper in a bunch of bananas or a Brown Widow Spider in your Californian cauliflower – call your local Natural Resource office and arrange for a professional to remove the offending animal.

    Above all else, don’t let it loose.

    I recently came across a small batch of letters while I was looking for something else.  The letters, described as PR-1615, were to Matilda John of Victoria.  They were written to her in 1899 and 1900 by her young boyfriend Harold Penn Wilson as he traveled from Victoria to Bennett and later Atlin.  Wilson worked for the Merchants Bank of Halifax and had been sent to their new office in Bennett.  The letters are mostly interesting in how they describe the journey from Vancouver to Bennett, and what it was like to live in the North at the turn of the century for a young bank clerk.  But there is also some gentle romance; Harold asked Mattie for a lock of her hair and claims that he is wearing her “badge”.  Harold was 19 and Mattie was about 16.

    Harold and Matilda never married, he eventually married someone else in Prince Rupert, and died back in Victoria in 1975.  I haven’t been able to find out anything about Matilda.  There is a photograph of a Matilda John in our portrait files which may be her.  She is dressed in what looks like a nurse’s uniform.

    Matilda kept the letters and they made their way to the Archives at some point.  They are quite fragile so they have been digitized by the Preservation team and now anyone can read them by clicking on the letter showing in the description and downloading the pdf file.

    D-04037

    When is a holotype not a type specimen?

    When it was never published in the first place.

    The Royal BC Museum fish collection contains a specimen which had been locked securely in one of our type cabinets since the 1980s. It was designated as the holotype for a new species – Sebastes tsuyukii – there was even a manuscript noted on the specimen label (Westreim and Seeb 1989). It sounded legit – and no one checked until recently.

    Jody Riley – my ever diligent volunteer – flagged this record when she was re-organising the fish collection. She checked what is in our old paper catalog, checked the electronic database, then looked to see if the actual specimen exists. When Jody hit Sebastes tsuyukii, and found no record of the species online, yet here in her hands was the jar with a big yellow tape label saying Holotype for Sebastes tsuyukii, she knew something was fishy.

     

    Did the manuscript stall during composition, submission, or revision? Who knows.

    In the end, we can take this large jar out of the cabinet designated for type specimens, Sebastes tsuyukii now is a nomen nudum (a naked name), and I can delete the species from the taxonomy in our museum database. Some database problems are easy to solve.

    But this reminds me to get my fingers in gear and type the type descriptions for species I have yet to publish.

    Last year I came across an interesting document.  It is a Memorandum of Cooperation between British Columbia and the State of Washington and was signed in July 1972 by Premier W.A.C. Bennett and the Governor of Washington, Daniel J. Evans.  It is a simply written two-page document outlining the desires of both parties to protect the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Strait of Georgia, Puget Sound and their adjacent waters from oil spills.

    The document came to the BC Archives in 1973, from the Office of the Deputy Provincial Secretary and had been stored offsite with just a control number.

    I rehoused it and made a descriptive record and recently our preservation team scanned it at my request.  Now anyone can read the document by clicking on the image and downloading the pdf, GR-0160

    Along with some 1977 photographs of oil spill experiments, it offers a glimpse into some of the prevailing issues in that decade.

    I-20083

    I-20081

    I-20086

    Nitinat (T12A) was a well known Orca along the BC coast. Born in 1982, he was a fixture along the BC coast and an active participant in the 2002 attack on a Minke Whale in Ganges Harbour, Saltspring Island. This animal – with its characteristically wavy dorsal was found dead off Cape Beale near Bamfield, September 15th, 2016. Funds weren’t available to prepare the entire skeleton, so I had to settle for the skull and jaws.

    As you can imagine, the head of an orca would pop the frame of any domestic chest freezer, and it blocked the aisle of the walk-in freezer at the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo. It was also no small feat to fork-lift the head into the museum’s van, and then get it back out of the van and wheel it to the museum’s walk-in freezer. It also was a surreal experience driving around with an orca head in the truck. The head is heavy – and slippery – and difficult to tie down – so I drove smoothly to avoid having the head roll around behind me. Imagine explaining to an insurance company how an orca head caused you to lose control of your vehicle?

    Nitinat’s head was prepared by Mike DeRoos and Michi Main – their internationally acclaimed business, Cetacea, focuses on cleaning and articulating whale skeletons. While preparing this skull for burial, they noticed that Nitinat had broken teeth. Given that I broke a molar on a frozen Reese’s Piece in a Dairy Queen Blizzard, I could imagine how Biggs Orcas could break a tooth when biting down on a sea lion or elephant seal. Large pinnipeds have dense bones.

    Once the skull was cleaned, Mike and Michi found that not only were teeth broken, there also is a nickle-sized hole in the palate and many teeth were abscessed.  The hole in the palate is particularly interesting. It has smooth sides and so certainly had healed before Nitinat’s death. Was it a puncture and the source of the infection that caused the distortion of the teeth? Or was it a channel for the abscess to weep into Nitinat’s mouth (not a pleasant thought regardless).

    Normal teeth (left) have a long root and recurved crown, with natural wear for their ecotype – but the abscessed teeth were stunning with their broken crown and expanded root. They almost remind me of some squash varieties that are available.

    One of the teeth is so swollen that it couldn’t be removed from its distorted socket.

    Red lines beside the skull indicate expanded tooth sockets – perhaps age and infection combined to create this effect. The sockets for the abscessed teeth were eroded and far larger than normal sockets (in this non-mammalogist’s opinion). Erik Lambertson made a great scale bar.

    Nitinat’s teeth are enough to make anyone who has had a toothache cringe, and a dentist’s eyes pop with fascination. I am just waiting for the day someone requests to see Nitinat as the focus of a pathology research paper. For now, he is a permanent addition to the Royal BC Museum collection and will soon get his official catalog number.

    I don’t know if the title of this article is an accurate way to say fork-tailed lizard in German, but the Gabelschwanz-Teufel – the P-38 Lightning (the fork-tailed devil) could take a lot of punishment and still get home at the end of a sortie. A fork-tailed lizard has a parallel story – it has taken a beating and survived.

    It is common to find lizards with regenerated tails or tails that are recently dropped – with their tell-tail stump. Sometimes the tip is lost, others about 90% of the tail is lost. The regrown tail segment is never as nice as the original and has different scale patterns and colouration.

    This male Wall Lizard photographed by Deb Thiessen, lost its tail near the base and the regenerated tail is obvious. Its meal had a perfect tail.

    I have seen fork-tailed, even trident tailed lizards in photos – I remember images like this in the books I poured over earlier in my ontogeny. Had I ever seen one in person? Not until now. During my PhD thesis work, the only fork-tails I thought about were thelodont fishes known from Early Devonian rocks of the Northwest Territories.

    This July, Robert Williams, a colleague from University of Leeds in England was here working on Wall Lizards. He was trying to determine if our native Northern Alligator Lizards react in any way to the scent of the European Wall Lizard.

    Live animals are not allowed at the Royal BC Museum, so Rob had to perform scent trials in my dining room. The lizards were held in containers in my kitchen – and I thank my wife for her patience.

    The work helps give a frame of reference to reactions between the native Sand Lizard in the UK and introduced Wall Lizards, but you’ll have to wait to hear the results. While hunting Wall Lizards on Moss Rocks here in Victoria, Rob caught a fork-tailed specimen.

    Since this was such a neat specimen I requested it be saved intact for the Royal BC Museum’s collection. Here is a photo of a fork-tailed Wall Lizard from England, but Rob had to come all the way to the Pacific coast of Canada to catch one.

    In museum collections, space is critical. We can’t waste space. Every millimeter of shelving is critical. If you can arrange cabinets more efficiently, do it. Can you pack more jars in a given area? Do it. If you can make space. Do it.

    I have been on a binge of deaccessioning lately. What is deaccessioning? It is the museum practice of removing accessioned/cataloged specimens from the collection. Once deaccessioned, we either send specimens to other museums where they are relevant, or give them to teaching collections or perhaps to nature centers. Only rotten specimens are destroyed. We try everything we can to re-purpose specimens before we resort to destruction.

    This surfperch, Embitoca lateralis, is a rare candidate for destruction. It has been deaccessioned – someone had cranked the clamp too tight years ago and the glass at the apex of lid popped. Alcohol evaporated and by the time it was noticed, it was too late. If the fish in the jar could speak, they’d say, “There’s a fungus among us.”

    Deaccessioning allows me to make space in the collection for new material. Since I am trying to keep the Royal BC Museum’s vertebrate collection focused on British Columbia, the eastern North Pacific Ocean and any adjacent territory, specimens with no relevance to this region obviously have my attention. Specimens with incomplete information (or no information), also flare my obsessive nature and are on my deaccession hit list. Space is created on a jar-by-jar basis.

    Putting ‘incomplete information’ in everyday terms – if we are going to meet somewhere, you generally expect some level of detail. If I say I want to meet in Tofino in June, what would you say? Imagine now that I didn’t even give you my name – but still wanted to meet in Tofino in June. I am betting you’d put on your best Monty Python-esque King Arthur and say, “You’re a Loony.” Incomplete or missing data is a real issue.

    My long suffering volunteer Jody found a jar of flatfish this weekend which had never been cataloged, but was in the collection. It was only a 125 ml jar – so not a huge waste of space. On closer inspection the fishes were identified (Parophrys vetulus, English Sole), there was a location (Tofino), and a date (June 1985).

    Where was I in June 1985 – oh yea – just about to graduate from grade 12. Oh the 80s – I am listening to Duran Duran while typing this – RIO – the obvious choice with its maritime theme.

    Yep, that was me in 1985.

    Parophrys vetulus is a common fish here in BC, so it is likely you can catch them all around Tofino in June – but it would be nice to know which beach relinquished its sole. And when did it happen? Was it at night? Was it a full moon? On the 1st of the month, or mid month? Were they in ankle-deep water or at 10 meters depth? Open beach or a tidepool? Caught by hand or with a net? Inquiring minds may want to know. And with no collector noted in the hand-written label – I can’t even badger someone by email to jog their memory or review old field notes.

    These are the lost soles Jody found. Is one of them yours?

    To a museum, data is everything. If you collect and preserve a specimen, record as much as you can about the event. If you are giving me your sole, then tell me its secrets.

    Don’t say that too quickly.

    I recently enjoyed looking through an old photograph album that was given to the Provincial Library and Archives in December 1937.  The album was donated by Major Harold Brown, Managing Director of the Union Steamship Co.  Provincial Librarian W. Kaye Lamb noted that the photographs were probably taken around 1924-1925.

    We don’t know why Brown created the album, maybe it was useful to have photographs of the Union Steamship Co. ships (and others) to hand when doing business.

    Over the years we have scanned about 147 of the 250 photographs in the album.  They can be viewed online with their description MS-3079.

    I am interested in the ones that show some kind of port activity like this one of the tug Helac and the Kaga Maru at what looks like the Vancouver Harbour.

    But this one is quite sad, it’s the Toyama Maru in Vancouver Harbour. Twenty years later it would be sunk by the USS Sturgeon, killing over 5000 Japanese soldiers and sailors.

    Saturday was International Archives Day. This year’s theme is Governance, Memory, and Heritage. It’s a broad subject, but it really covers the essence of what we do.

    Part of my job involves giving tours of the BC Archives, often to groups of people that have never used an archives or considered doing archival research. In my 10 minute “Archives 101” introduction I start with one of the main tenants of why we keep records: because archives are a mainstay of democratic governance. Embedded in democracy is the right of the people to access information about themselves and their government. In theory we keep about 5% of all the records created by government, but that small percentage should capture the good stuff: decision making documents, policies, annual reports, and other summary records that illustrate what a particular government office was doing at a moment in time.

    Government records are great for giving an overview of society, but they can be somewhat dry – and so much of society operates outside of government. For this reason, the BC Archives long ago adopted a “total archives” approach, seeking to fill in the gaps in the record by acquiring the records of individuals, families, businesses, and organizations whose impact was provincial in scope. Of course, deciding what records fit this mandate is subjective, and institutional interests or priorities can be evident in collecting practices over time. Ensuring that the spectrum of humanity and experiences in BC are reflected in the archives is a challenge, and we must continually evaluate the work that we do, recognizing that there will always be silences in the record, and that often what we don’t find in the archives is as important as what we do find.

    One thing you can be sure to find in the archives is variety. From the people and the places described, to the format that the information is found, there is more to the archives than most people expect. A record is any recorded information: textual (written records), cartographic (maps, plans, architectural drawings), audio-visual (sound recordings and moving picture recordings), graphic (photographs, paintings, drawings and prints). For International Archives Day, we wanted to highlight a few of our diverse collections. But how can we choose among the thousands of series? I’ve selected a few today, but the @BCArchives twitter account will continue to highlight our records by tweeting a “Featured Collection” twice a month from now on. Although some of what we share may have restrictions on access, we hope they give a sense of the fascinating information found in the stacks at the Archives!

    FEATURED COLLECTIONS:

    GR 3571 – Premier’s Correspondence. 131 m textual, photos, audio, ephemera. These records cover the  period from 1974 to 2008 and document ordinary peoples’ reactions to  “hot topic” issues of the day such as old growth forestry logging, RCMP officers wearing turbans, the tainted blood scandal, and government funding of AIDS medication. Included are some children’s letters and art from school groups. This collection is may have some restrictions on access.

    PR-2086 Philip Borsos fonds. 22 metres of multimedia material including film reels, magnetic tracks, optical tracks, optical discs, video reels, videocassettes, audio reels, audio cassettes, audio compact discs, photographs, technical drawings, maps, prints, production boards and computer disks. Borsos was a filmmaker with a career spanning 1970 – 1995. The film projects chronicled include the documentary shorts “Cooperage”, “Spartree”, “Phase Three”, “Nails”, and “Racquetball”, and the features “The Grey Fox”, “One Magic Christmas”, “Bethune”, and “Far from Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog.” The fonds also includes Borsos’ journals and miscellaneous personal papers.

    GR-3377 – Provincial Archives of British Columbia audio interviews, 1974-1992. Consists of 440 sound recordings. The series consists of oral history interviews recorded by staff members and research associates of the Provincial Archives of B.C. Major subject areas include: political history (especially the Coalition era, the W.A.C. Bennett years, and David Barrett’s NDP government); ethnic groups (including Chinese- and Japanese-Canadians); frontier and pioneer life; the forest industry; B.C. art and artists; the history of photography, filmmaking and radio broadcasting in the province; and the history of Victoria High School. This is one example of many oral history collections at the Archives!

    GR-0419.34A – Attorney General documents, 17 (1887). 235 pages. File includes correspondence and other records relating to the so-called “Kootenai Uprising.” Records describe the dissatisfaction of the Ktunaxa with their assigned reserve lands; the accusation of two Indigenous men of murder, followed by the arrest of one called Kapla, and his subsequent escape with the assistance of Chief Isadore; and the deployment of the North-West Mounted Police, led by Sam Steele, to the region. Of particular note is a verbatim transcript of a speech delivered by Chief Isadore in July 1887.

    PR-1380 – Frederick Dally fonds. 7 cm of textual records, 466 photographs, 1 map. Frederick Dally was born in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England in 1840. He arrived in Victoria, British Columbia, in 1862, on the China Clipper “Cyclone.” In March 1864, Dally leased a store at the corner of Fort and Government streets, and in 1866 he opened a photographic studio in Victoria. Between 1865 and 1870, he took extensive photographs around Vancouver Island and in the Cariboo District.

    I have said before that European Wall Lizards (Podarcis muralis) will eat smaller conspecifics – there are a few photos online from elsewhere on Earth – but until now I didn’t have solid evidence of lacertophagy (lizard eating) here on Vancouver Island.

    However, this last week, Deb Thiessen took a few videos of a Wall Lizard eating a yearling Wall Lizard on her property just north of Victoria. These are really good videos and clearly show that Wall Lizards can stuff down a huge meal.

    Posted by Deb Thiessen on Friday, June 1, 2018

    In this first video the smaller Wall Lizard is already dead, and I suspect that the larger lizard killed it. Looks like another lizard had thoughts of stealing the meal. Sure looks like breathing is an issue while stuffing down so large a meal. Snakes solve the problem of eating and breathing by pushing their trachaea (windpipe) out of the mouth so that food does not block air flow.

    Posted by Deb Thiessen on Friday, June 1, 2018

    The victor looks like a male, and in the second video you can see how quickly it disposes of the tail rather than having that part of the meal hanging out of its mouth for a few days.

    Almost all of the victor’s own tail had been lost some time ago. You can always see where its original tail ended and the re-growth takes over – the new tail is never as neatly patterned.

    Be glad Wall Lizards aren’t the same size as Varanus prisca, otherwise we’d be on the menu.



    Last summer I worked with some really interesting records that illuminated the “Home Front” situation in British Columbia during World War 2.

    Activity, particularly in the realm of Air Raid Precautions (ARP), was a curious mixture of official and civilian partnership.  In 1942 Premier John Hart formed the Advisory Council, Provincial Civilian Protection Committee to assist and advice the official Provincial committee in the organization of air raid precautions in the province.

    The Advisory Council took on a lot of administrative work in distributing grants to BC communities to buy equipment, train volunteers and disseminate information.

    The records of the Committee are with the BC Archives and are described as GR-0268.  Last year I found three boxes of missing records and added them to the series.  The series description can be viewed here.

    The records are open for access but are stored offsite so can take a few days to bring in.

    There are also some photographic records created by the Advisory Committee which I had a lot of fun working with.  One series, GR-3644,  consists of 77 b&w photos of ARP activity.  Our preservation unit has scanned these so they can now all be viewed online.

    Some of my favourites include I-78009 (children learning to use respirators), I-78029 (volunteers receiving training),  I-78002 (recruiting poster) and I-77973 (gas decontamination crew during practice)

    Or if you are an astronomer, then your science is Sirius. If you are a geologist, then your science is pretty gneiss. Don’t take science for granite.

    I have been tracking Wall Lizards now for a while – and I am sure my wife will say lizard tracking has become an obsession – a serious obsession. I look at rock walls as we drive around town. I look for lizards on our weekend hikes. I watch for lacertids when I walk our daughter too and from school. Science is serious.

    I have been watching the range expansion of two nicely segregated populations of lizards in Victoria – one population is about 0.63 km SSW from our house west of Hillside Mall, and the other is about 0.24 km north of us near Doncaster School – not that I have measured.

    Each year I walk the perimeter of these populations to get an idea how fast lizards disperse in urban environments – again – this is serious science. Stop laughing. I can hear you laughing. Rolling your eyes does not help.

    Wall Lizards seem to spread 40 to 100 meters – and it is the young ones that do the dispersing. Why? They race off to new habitat to avoid the cannibalistic tendencies of their parents. Parents with a 40 year old trekkie in the basement may want to consider this option as an incentive to get kids to move out.

    Young lizards head for the relative safety of boring lawns – garden areas with lots of structure are occupied by hungry adults. Homeowners sometimes claim their lawn is crawling with young lizards in August – when all the summer’s eggs have hatched. In contrast, adults are relatively sedentary – once they find good sunny, rocky (complex) territory, they tend to move very little from year to year.

    Now imagine my surprise when I walked up my driveway last night (May 23rd, 2018) and heard the characteristic rustling sound of a lizard in our food forest (yes, the lawn is gone and we have a food forest – the entire front garden is devoted to plants we can eat, and plants that attract bees to pollinate the plants with edible bits – but I digress). The lizard I found is at least 0.24 km from the nearest known population of lizards in my neighbourhood, and is an adult – with a perfect tail too – must have lived a charmed life free of bird and domestic cat attacks. Did this adult go walkabout? I doubt it.

    The new colonist in the food forest at UF1510 (yes, as sci-fi nuts we gave our place a code name Urban Farm1510)…

    Furthermore, the lizards nearest to my house are not brightly coloured – in fact they are kind of drab as far as Wall Lizards go. But our new lizard is gorgeous – more like ones from Triangle Mountain or farther north on the Saanich Peninsula.

    This male is from Durrance Road – far more colourful than the ones near Doncaster School or Hillside Mall.

    Is this a case of seriously good science prank? Was this a drive-by lizarding? Did a neighbour just buy some new garden supplies and a stow-away lizard emerged to find utopia in our food forest? I may never know.

    My daughter has named the lizard Zoom. I guess he is there to stay.

    Here’s a link to a new paper by: Luke R Halpin, Jeffrey A Seminoff, and myself.

    Source: Northwestern Naturalist, 99(1):73-75.

    Published By: Society for Northwestern Vertebrate Biology

    This new paper provides the first photographs of a Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta) from west of Vancouver Island. The species has been spotted in the region before and as far north as Alaska, but until now, there were no photographs or specimens as solid evidence.

    While the photos in this paper are black and white – the original photographs by Luke Halpin are color and van be viewed upon request. PDFs also are available – just send me an email.

    British Columbia is now within the range of 4 species of marine turtle. This Loggerhead survived into February of 2015 because of the unusually warm water in the eastern North Pacific Ocean (the Warm Water Blob), whereas Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas) and Olive Ridley Sea Turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) wash up dead (or near dead) in early winter. Unfortunately, the fate of the Loggerhead from 2015 is unknown.

    Years ago after coming off parental leave, I found a series of photographs of Wall Lizards and a Google Earth image of a road intersection marked to show locations for a lizard colony. Quick search in Google Earth showed that this colony was in Nanaimo. I fired off a fast blog article to generate interest and get people looking for Wall Lizards.

    It worked. Reports came in.

    Jump forward a few years and now that street (Flagstone – site 1) is crawling with lizards according to eyewitnesses. But we now also have another site (2) along the Nanaimo Parkway near Douglas Avenue and Tenth Street. Oh wait, there’s also a third site (3) in the Chase River Estuary Park, and as of this weekend, there’s another (4) – way north of the rest along Arrowsmith Road. The report of the lizards in the Arrowsmith Road area was accompanied by video – there was no doubt as to the identification of those lizards – and that was a big jump from previous known occurrences.

    Two other records – one along Enfer Road near Quennell Lake, and along Leask Road south of Nanaimo have yet to be verified with specimens, photographs or video.

    There you go Nanaimo, the invasion has picked up pace. Keep your eyes peeled for lizards with a green tint to their scales, minute scales on their back, and generally more delicate proportions than the native Alligator Lizard.

    Look at this post to help identify any lizards in your neighborhood.

    If you find suspected Wall Lizards – email me at: ghanke@royalbcmuseum.bc.ca

    If you find a lizard that is not a Western Skink, Northern Alligator Lizard, or European Wall Lizard – I definitely want to know about it.

    Please record the date and street address (or prominent landmark) to pin down exactly where the lizard was seen. A photo would be really helpful to confirm the lizard’s identification. Happy hunting.

     

    It is always satisfying to update taxonomy in the museum’s database or find and correct mistakes. This week I spent some time sorting out details on Royal BC Museum specimens of California Yellowtail (Seriola dorsalis) and Great Amberjack (Seriola lalandi). Turns out that since these fishes were collected, Seriola dorsalis has been sunk, and all our fishes are Seriola lalandi (as noted by Gillespie 1993). This carangid fish is known to move into our waters in warmer years.

    While reviewing what we knew about the first BC specimen (979-11312) it became obvious that the Royal BC Museum’s database was missing some information for that fish. Fortunately, this information was easily updated – the original report was published in the Royal BC Museum’s extinct periodical Syesis (see Nagtegaal and Farlinger 1980).

    Drawing of Seriola dorsalis – oops lalandi (979-11312) by K. Uldall-Ekman.

    In fixing that record, I noticed that some online sources had given incorrect coordinates for this fish. Contrast the capture location of 54°35’N, 131°00’W in Caamaño Passage as reported by Nagtegaal and Farlinger (1980), with online sources which state the fish was caught at 54°35’N, 31°00’W. That missing 1 in the reported longitude determines which ocean is linked this fish.

    The takeaway message? Always check the original paper rather than relying on internet sources. Precise data is everything – and in the words of a well known scoundrel: “Without precise calculations we could fly right through a star, or bounce too close to a supernova and that’d end your trip real quick, wouldn’t it.” Or in this case, you’d be landing southwest of Iceland to look for Great Amberjack.

    References:

    Gillespie, G.F. 1993. An Updated List of the Fishes of British Columbia, and Those of Interest in Adjacent Waters, with Numeric Code Designation.Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 1918. 116 p.

    Nagtegaal, D.A. and S.P. Farlinger. 1981. First record of two fishes, Seriola dorsalis and Medialuna californiensis, from waters off British Columbia. Syesis 13:206 –207.

    I’ve received a steady series of emails this year detailing European Wall Lizard locations here on Vancouver Island, and it’s now April and wall lizards certainly are active. However, an email arrived April 11th which gave me a WTH (What The Herp) moment. The email contained a beautifully focused photo of a new turtle for BC. Then it occurred to me that I’d lost count of how many turtle species have been dumped here – unwanted pets that outlived the interest of their owners.

    I really like when people send me photos of things they think are unusual – and this week’s email was no exception. We know that Red-eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans), Yellowbelly Sliders (Trachemys scripta2), and a Map Turtle (Graptemys sp.) have been dumped in Goodacre Lake, and Red-eared Sliders into Fountain Pond, but this new turtle photographed by Deb Thiessen (see below) certainly was not just an odd coloured slider, nor was it another map turtle. As an aside, I haven’t had a chance to catch the Map Turtle in Beacon Hill Park to get a good look at it, but I have seen it at a distance, and ID’ed it based on photos from Darren Copley and James Miskelly. It looks like a False Map Turtle (Graptemys pseudogeographica). I think that’ll be a summer goal, to get good photos of that turtle to be sure which species it represents.

    A Peninsula Cooter (Pseudemys peninsularis) from Fountain Lake, Beacon Hill Park, Victoria, BC. Photograph by Deb Thiessen, retired CRD Parks naturalist.

    As you can see from Deb Thiessen’s photograph, this new turtle has a large shell for the size of the head, and the stripes on the neck are crisp, and bold yellow offset by black. The bold markings to me suggested Peninsula Cooter (Pseudemys peninsularis). The short claws on its forelimb indicate it is female. Males would have claws double the length of those in the photo. This animal is way outside its normal range – Peninsula Cooters are from Florida.

    This animal brings our list of pet turtles to 10 species abandoned in BC ponds and lakes – that we know of. Here is the list I have of turtles that have been found in BC – way out of their native range – and (shockingly) it parallels species available in the pet trade here in BC.

     

    Trachemys scripta (Pond Slider – both T. s. elegans and T. s. scripta)

    Pseudemys peninsularis (Peninsula Cooter)

    Pseudemys concinna (River Cooter)

    Chrysemys picta marginata (Midland Painted Turtle, possibly also Southern Painted Turtles, C. p. dorsalis)

    Graptemys pseudogeographica (False Map Turtle)

    Emys orbicularis (European Pond Terrapin – always did like the word Terrapin – a bit of nostalgia from my British roots)

    Chinemys reevsi (Reeve’s Turtle)

    Malaclemys terrapin (Diamondback Terrapin)

    Apalone spinifera (Spiny Softshell Turtle)

    Chelydra serpentina (Common Snapping Turtle)

     

    Fortunately most turtles are dumped one at a time and do not reproduce. Sadly though, I can’t say the same for the Red-eared Sliders – they now can reproduce successfully here in British Columbia (I have two pets from the first successful clutch found on the south coast of BC, ca. January 11, 2015). Red-eared Sliders now are common in artificial and natural ponds and in lakes here in southwestern British Columbia – and until recently, we were sure that each adult represented an abandoned pet (or maybe the occasional escapee). Now males are finding females. Females are finding decent nesting locations. And eggs are surviving to hatch.

    Knowing that sliders can breed here, I stopped to check whether sliders and cooters can hybridize, and it has been suggested to be possible – but no solid proof. And since it is better to be safe than sorry… Does anyone know how to neuter a Cooter?

    This time of year, my garden is one big mudslide. Sunny days with a blue horizon are not that common here on Vancouver Island in winter – but when they occur, we certainly enjoy them. So do our slim little European Wall Lizards.

    This January and February I collected lizards which were active when the air temperatures were between 5° to 7°C. As a survivor of the Canadian prairies, collecting lizards in winter seems about as strange as an empty room in a museum collection.

    I found lizards along Derby Road in my neighborhood, on Moss Rocks, at Gardenworks Nursery in the Blenkinsop Valley – winter lizard activity is nothing new here on Vancouver Island.

    Lizards were found in south-facing locations with full sun exposure and when caught, were very warm to the touch. It is obvious that they are effective solar collectors and can elevate their body temperatures well above that of the chilly air – even when it is a bit windy. It is not uncommon to see lizards only exposing their head for a while, then the rest of the body. Perhaps this is a low-risk way to warm blood via blood vessels in the throat before they venture out and deal with intruding conspecifics. I haven’t seen any wall lizards feeding in winter – but that doesn’t mean they don’t. I’ll have to examine museum specimens to see what’s in the stomachs of winter-caught lizards.

    An adult European Wall Lizard caught on Derby Road in Victoria, February 26th, 2018.

    As of this February, the Royal BC Museum collection has 30 lots of European Wall Lizard specimens representing surface activity for each month of the year. Some people collect trading cards to get a complete set, I collect lizards to get one per month. Wall Lizards are active in winter as far north as Denman Island, and given that range, probably could extend further north of Campbell River in areas with a warm microclimate.

    The collection of lizards for each season put a song from 1971 into my head – so I reworded the chorus a bit…

    Winter, spring, summer or fall,

    All they have to do is crawl,

    And I’ll be there, yes I will,

    Their spread has to end.

    Introduction

    I would like you to consider for a moment a poem.

    One of the losses in the story of Canadian literature was the murder, at the hands of her husband, of the brilliant, Vancouver-born poet Pat Lowther. She herself is a loss—and I will take up the issue of cultural loss in a moment. But she also has a sharp eye for describing loss: for describing the long movement of history and what may so easily, if we are not careful to preserve it, disappear.

    In her “Elegy for the South Valley”, Pat Lowther writes that in Canada “we have no centuries / here a few generations / do for antiquity.”

    In the poem—as the rains “keep on and on” and the South Valley silts up—we see

    the dam that served

    a mine that serviced empire

    crumbling slowly deep

    deep in the bush

    for its time

    for this country

    it’s a pyramid

    it’s Tenochtitlan going back

    to the bush and the rain.[1]

    This is, I think, quite astonishing, for here is the recognition that the culture that surrounds us, however plain, however modest, however workmanlike, is a monument. A concrete dam in British Columbia is an Egyptian pyramid. It is the capital of Aztec Mexico. And like them, though in only “a few generations”, it too can disappear into the wilderness.

    Read full speech (PDF)

    [1] Pat Lowther, “Elegy for the South Valley” in Time Capsule: New and Selected Poems (Victoria, BC: Polestar Book Publishers, 1996), pp.205–7.

    In an earlier post I mentioned that Luke Halpin was out surveying marine mammals and birds from the deck of the CCGS John P. Tully, and spotted something totally different west of Brooks Peninsula. The fish was estimated at 3.5-4 meters in length, and was cruising against the current just below the surface.

    But until the paper announcing his find was accepted by a scientific journal, I didn’t want to spill the beans and say what he had found. His research paper (Halpin et al. 2018) will be published in the spring issue of the Northwestern Naturalist.

    Photo by Luke Halpin, September 5th, 2017

    This picture says it all – there is no debating what this fish is – only one species that fits the bill. Swordfish are known north to the southern Kuril Islands in the western Pacific, but Luke’s find is the northern-most record for the species in the eastern Pacific and is conclusive evidence of this species right along our coast.

    A Google Earth image showing where the Swordfishes from 2017 and 1983 were found relative to Vancouver Island.

    A previous record from 1983 (see Sloan 1984, and Peden and Jamieson 1988) was from just inside of our exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and barely qualified as a BC fish. The 1983 specimen was caught as by-catch at 47°36’N, 131°03’W, during an experimental fishery survey by the M/V Tomi Maru. The rostrum and tail were preserved in the Royal BC Museum’s fish collection (RBCM 983-1730-001). I am guessing the edible bits in between were cut into steaks, and ended up on someone’s dinner table. At least Luke’s Swordfish was left alone and for all we know, is happily cruising south to slightly warmer water.

    References:

    Halpin, L.R., M. Galbraith, and K.H. Morgan. 2018. The First Swordfish (Xiphias gladius) Recorded in Coastal  British Columbia. Northwestern Naturalist, 99(1): XX-XX. (pages not set)

    Peden, A.E., and G.S. Jamieson. 1988. New distributional records of marine fishes off Washington, British Columbia and Alaska. Canadian Field-Naturalist, 102(3), 491-494.

    Sloan, N.A. 1984. Canadian-Japanese Experiental Fishery for Oceanic Squid off British Columbia, Summer 1983. Canadian Industry Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences No. 152: pp. 42.

     

     

    Keep your eyes peeled for deep-sea fishes while strolling along our shores. In the last month, three King-of-the-Salmon (Trachipterus altivelis) have washed up in the Salish Sea. Two were found in September (21st and 26th) in the Oak Bay area, Victoria. One of these was still swimming when found. A third was found October 3rd in Hood Canal, in Puget Sound. The first Oak Bay specimen will be preserved for the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea in Sidney, the second was not recovered, and the third will be preserved in the Burke Museum’s collection. The Royal BC museum has 18 Trachipterus specimens, with several of these from the Salish Sea area.

    The King-of-the-Salmon from Hood Channel, photographed by Randi Jones.

    Is this species new to the region? No. The species ranges from Alaska to Chile, and knowledge of this species pre-dates European arrival on this coast. Is this trio of King-of-the-Salmon a case of post-spawn mortality? A sign of change in our oceans? We don’t know. Actually, when you look at the diversity of marine fishes off our coast, there is a lot of basic biology that we don’t know. We also get Longnose Lancetfishes (Alepisaurus ferox) washing up from time to time, although it has been a few years since I have heard report of a Lancetfish in the Victoria region.

    King-of-the-Salmon swim by passing a sine wave down their dorsal fin – they can get a fair bit of speed just by doing that. They can also reverse using the same fin flutter. They slowly turn by putting a curve in the body. However, in the first few seconds of the linked video you can see that they also swim in a more typical fishy way (using eel-like body oscillation) when they need a burst of speed or a really quick turn. If you’d like to see this form of locomotion in person – you can see it in a pet shop. Knife fishes use the same basic locomotion method – except they use their anal fin rather than the dorsal.

    Close up of the head of the King-of-the-Salmon showing the premaxillary (red) and maxillary (green) bones extended, photographed by Randi Jones.

    Note also in the video that the fish has a very short face compared to the Hood Channel specimen photographed onshore. As with many fishes, the jaws of the King-of-the-Salmon are protrusible – the premaxillary and maxillary bones swing out to create a tube – the gill chamber dilates, and water rushes into the mouth along with the prey. The same sort of suction pump mechanism is used by a wide variety of fishes – from tiny seahorses to giant groupers. Once the prey item is inside the fish’s mouth, the mouth closes, water is released through the gills and the prey is swallowed. The entire sequence is lightning fast – even in pipefishes and seahorses – blink and you miss it. In some fishes, the process is even audible – you can hear a snapping sound when seahorses slurp up crustaceans (and fishes). You can’t hear the same snapping sound when larger fishes engulf their prey, but it is no less dramatic an effect.

    In 2014, a Louvar and a Finescale Triggerfish were found in BC – a double-header of interesting southern fishes in our waters. But wait…  it looks like 2017 is also a double-header for cool coastal fish.

    This summer of 2017 (and in 2016), Basking Sharks were sighted here in BC. I think every Basking Shark is newsworthy given that they were nearly eliminated here in an ill-conceived plot to protect BC fisheries (see Wallace and Gisborne 2006 for that sad story). This year’s Basking Sharks were found in Caamano Sound in July, and near the Delwood Seamounts in August. Was it one roving shark? Or two? Are there others?

    This September however, Luke Halpin was out surveying marine birds from the deck of the CCGS John P. Tully, and spotted something totally different west of Brooks Peninsula. The fish is estimated at 3.5-4 meters in length, and was cruising against the current just below the surface.

    We are really fortunate that it was sunny and seas were so calm – because his picture leaves no doubt as to the fish’s identification. The best part about the story is that the fish is still out there. Don’t get me wrong, I’d have loved to have the fish as a specimen for the museum’s collection – but then again, it would require a custom vat – three to four meter fishes don’t fit in jars.

    This species is known north to the southern Kuril Islands in the western Pacific, but Luke’s find is the northern-most record for the species in the eastern Pacific and is conclusive evidence of this species as a new addition to our coastal fish fauna. Which species did he find? You’ll have to wait until he publishes his observations in a scientific research paper. Consider this a trailer – a teaser – there’s a big fish out there – it is cool… and I am jealous. I would love to see this fish alive.

    The Doncaster population of the European Wall Lizard probably is 6 years old based on conversations I have had with home owners. In the Google Earth image – the white dots are known locations – the green dots are new locations for 2017.

    How do I know these are new? Homeowners specifically said they had no lizards in 2016 – but they certainly do now. That’s the power of local knowledge and citizen science. The green dots along Oak Crest Drive were newly reported in the spring of 2017, with at least three adult lizards now known on the property. The two green dots along Cedar Avenue to the northeast are based on sightings of at least three young lizards – probably lizards that hatched this year and got well-clear of their parent’s territory. Cannibalism is a good emigration motivation.

    Based on where lizards were known in 2016, these 2017 records represent range extensions from 20 to 100 meters. Compared to their body size, that’s pretty decent dispersal given that adult lizards only grow to 21 cm (those fortunate enough to have a perfect tail), and in many cases, the dispersing lizards are young-of-the-year at 8 or so centimeters in total length.

    If younglings continue to bolt at this rate and make a bee-line south, I will have lizards in my garden in 2 years. More realistically, it will be another 3 years before we see them along our raised beds or in our greenhouse – not that I’m counting.

    We now have 21 orca specimens at the Royal BC Museum—the latest to arrive was T-171, a 6.07 meter female Biggs Orca which was found near Prince Rupert, October 19th, 2013. She had pinniped skulls, vibrissae (whiskers) and partially digested bones in her gut but was emaciated. Why was she emaciated?

    During the necropsy, researchers discovered that T-171 had mid-cervical to lumbar vertebrae with severe overgrowth of the neural arches and lateral processes (noted as spondylosis in the necropsy) – the overgrowth looks roughly like popcorn or cauliflower – and had the effect of interlocking some vertebrae. This likely explains her emaciated state. Was she able to hunt? Was she supported by her relatives?

    The skull of T-171 (ventral (palatal) view [left], right side [center], and dorsal view [right]) awaiting its catalog number and final place in the Royal BC Museum collection.

    Comparison of T-171’s vertebra (left) with overgrowth of bone vs. the normal vertebra of another Biggs Orca (12844) (right). The two vertebrae are not from the exact same position along the spine, but the difference between the two is still shocking.

    Many of T-171’s vertebral centra are eroded and porous – not like those of a healthy animal (12844).

    The overgrowth of the neural arches pinched the spinal chord of T-171; compare to a neural arch of 12844 (right). The vertebral malformation must have limited this animal’s mobility. It is hard not to anthropomorphize and imagine the discomfort due to this deformation.

    T-171 originally was prepared for exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum, but they wanted a clean articulated skeleton for exhibit. In contrast, we were interested in T-171 because of its skeletal malformation. To make a short story long, we came to an agreement with the ROM to transfer T-171 to the Royal BC Museum, and since, the ROM has acquired L95 (Nigel), a 20 year old southern resident who was found near Esperanza Inlet, March 30th, 2016.

    Which Orca is next? In most cases we have no clue – it is not like we hunt orca just to add them to the collection. And we don’t usually have a production line of specimens in preparation. New specimens are acquired when a body washes up, and we make a snap-decision to cover the cost of specimen recovery and preparation. However, September 15, 2016, T-12A (Nitinat) was found off Cape Beale and towed to Banfield. I was contacted September 16th to see if the Royal BC Museum was interested (obviously that was a YES), and now his massive skull is being prepared. Once degreased, Nitinat’s skull will be added to the Royal BC Museum collection – sometime in 2018 – and made available for scientific research.

    As a kid I collected many things – from reptiles and amphibians to model airplanes to Star Wars cards – and now look where I am. I dress in black and white as a Stormtrooper with the 501st legion and collect black and white delphinids – Killer Whales – for the Royal BC Museum. Life sure takes you to unexpected destinations.

    A little while back I was musing over a spot on my Wall Lizard map that shows a large expanse east of Highway 17 between Cordova Bay Road to Mt Newton Cross Road that appears to be Wall-Lizard-free turf. Wall Lizards are crawling everywhere just the other side of the highway on Tanner Ridge. Either no one has reported lizards from this area – and it seems unlikely given how many reports I receive each year, or lizards have not been able to cross HWY 17.

    Cedar Hill Road in the Southeast Cedar Hill area also seems to be a decent barrier even though it is not a particularly busy road. Lizards have been in that area for about 6 years(as of 2016) and have crossed Derby Road without a problem – but not Cedar Hill Road. Cedar Hill may be just busy enough to limit the survival of adventurous lizards.

    It seems interesting that a lizard as fast as the Wall Lizard could not cross – but then again – why would they? Young ones disperse to avoid cannibalism, but perhaps the noise, vibration and sight of passing vehicles is enough to dissuade all but the most suicidal of lizards.

    I recently tripped across an article detailing road crossing behaviour in snakes (Andrews and Gibbons 2005). In their study, smaller snakes seemed to avoid crossing roads, whereas larger snakes have no problem with the concept. I wonder if the same is true for Wall Lizards? Interestingly, all snake species they studied crossed perpendicular to the road’s length – an adaptive behaviour minimizing distance and time on the tarmac. Some species froze in place when a car passed – that is maladaptive – and significantly increased an animal’s exposure to vulcanized rubber.

    I have not seen Wall Lizards crossing a street – but would be interesting to see if they too cross perpendicular to the curb, and whether they blast across or dart and pause – unintentionally increasing their risk of catastrophic z-axis reduction.

    Andrews, K.M., and Gibbons, J.W. 2005. How to Highways Influence Snake Movement? Behavioural Responses to Roads and Vehicles. Copeia 2005(4): 772-782.

    Another lizard arrived in BC last week. We can add Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei) to our list of accidental imports – but this certainly is not the first one to have arrived by accident in BC. Many lizards travel the globe as stow-aways. This one travelled here in its egg along with a Snake Plant (also known as the Mother-in-Law’s Tongue). Sansevieria are popular houseplants – Snake Plants are easy to keep and look neat. My wife bought one for our living room – no lizards in our plant though.

    Where was the plant from? Who knows. This plant could have come from anywhere. Brown Anole’s have invaded Florida, and southern parts of Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. They also have invaded Hawai’i, southern Texas and southern California along with their relative the Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis). The Green Anole is native to the south-eastern United States, and in their native range, Green Anoles may be forced out of their usual habitat by their exotic relatives. Brown Anoles are native to Cuba and the Bahamas.Even if it got loose, this anole would not survive our winter. It was no real threat to our environment or fauna, but does show that the transport of exotic species is ridiculously easy – an egg in the soil in a plant pot. This time we are fortunate. Only one egg was present. Anoles are light-weight arboreal lizards which lay one egg at a time, and they are not parthenogenetic. Anole eggs develop in alternate ovaries at about a two week interval – if I remember correctly. This ensures the female lizard is not excessively encumbered, and for us it meant that only one egg likely was present in the pot (or any other pot at the home hardware store).

    Brown Anole eggs are a bit bigger than a Tic-Tac candy, so no wonder they are overlooked – they also are buried a centimeter or so in the soil – so they’d be out of sight. As long as the soil was not disturbed, was warm and moist – but not too wet, and the egg was not rolled, the developing embryo would survive transport.

    I wonder where this lizard’s brothers and sisters ended up? They could be anywhere. Since the lizard travelled here in an egg, I vote we name it Mork. Na-Nu Na-Nu.

    Just tripped across this fish while sorting out odd records in the RBCM fish database.

    999-00114-001 – unidentified fish – Family Triglidae (Searobins, Gurnards)

    Well, it turns out to be Prionotus stephanophrys – a Lumptail Searobin – and a new family, genus and species for BC.  Three other triglid species (two of them are Prionotus species) are known to stray into Atlantic Canada.

    This one was caught in 1998 on La Perouse Bank, it was added to the RBCM collection in 1999, and sat there ever since. No one had taken a second look at this specimen – until today. It was completely new to our system and as such, I had to add the genus and species to our database’s taxonomic tree.

    Until now, its northern record was off the mouth of the Columbia River – this new(ly rediscovered) record extends this family north about 260 km in the eastern North Pacific Ocean.

    The lower three pectoral rays of this fish are almost like fingers – it probably walks along the bottom like other triglids – the walking mechanism makes me think of face-hugger Alien larvae.

    I took these photos of Royal BC Museum lizard specimens with my iPhone 4 through the eyepiece of the old dissecting microscope in my lab. Then sent the photos via two emails to office thanks to WiFi – and to think – this is the “low-tech” way of doing things these days. Low-tech – sending files through the air from a hand held device… I have to laugh how technology has changed since I was a kid with my first pet lizards. The nerd in me can’t help but hear James Earl Jones’ voice – “Several transmissions were beamed to your inbox. I want to know what happened to the scans they sent you.”

    In earlier blogs I have mentioned scale differences between BC lizards – so I thought I may as well take close-up shots to clearly show the differences. Under a dissecting microscope (diss-secting, not die-secting), you can easily see the shape of the bead-like back scales of the European Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis). It’s like a microscopic cobblestone pavement. Each scale is about the diameter of a standard sewing pin.

    European Wall Lizard (2112)

    The larger back scales of the Northern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria coerulescens) are painfully obvious, and each scale has its own raised keel. The keel gives each scale an angular appearance.

    Northern Alligator Lizard (1358)

    The Pygmy Short-horned lizard (Phrynosoma douglasii) has a really complex squamation with tiny granular scales interspersed between clusters of larger keeled scales. The larger scales are raised into spires above the general scale-scape (the lizard equivalent of landscape).

    Pygmy Short-horned Lizard (323)

    Western Skinks (Plestiodon skiltonianus) by contrast are painfully even and smooth – yawn. It’s a good thing they have speed-stripes and a bright blue tail to make them stand out in a crowd.

    Western Skink (1964)

    Western Fence Lizards (Sceloporus occidentalis) have scales each with a trailing spine – characteristic of all Sceloporus species. Some, like the Crevice Spiny Lizard in the United States have really robust spines on their scales, others like the Sagebrush Lizard have tiny spines. Cordylids in Africa take spiny scales to a whole new level.

    Western Fence Lizard (705)

    Sorry, I forgot a scale bar in the photos, but the images were fairly close to the same magnification.

    You’d think that sharks and rays would be pretty well known along our coast. Did you know that two Hammerhead Sharks have been found off Vancouver Island? Even a Tiger Shark has strayed north to Alaska. Did it swim along the BC coast, or did it take a more direct route from Hawai’i? We’ll never know. However, in 2016 a new shark was added to our fish fauna – the Pacific Angel Shark (Squatina californica) – based on a clear photograph by Mark Cantwell and his detailed description of the dive location.

    We have known since 1931 that Angel Sharks ranged north to Seattle, and there is a single record from Alaska. The specimen label for this 35 cm Alaskan female had been lost (Evermann and Goldsborough 1907) and we cannot pin down its collection location with certainty. Until now, we had no Angel Shark records for British Columbia – but it was only a matter of time.

    On the 30th of April, 2016, a single adult Angel Shark was sighted by a diver off Clover Point right here in Victoria. The shark’s gender cannot be determined from the photograph since claspers, if present, are not visible. The Angel Shark was found in about 12 meters of water, about 30 meters off the point. The diver estimated the shark’s length at about 1.1 to 1.2 meters in length. The specimen was not collected, but it would have made a fantastic museum specimen.

    King and Surry (2016) published the discovery of this shark in BC in a recent issue of the Canadian Field-Naturalist. While this now is not breaking news – in fact it is a year late – people may still want the primary reference to our latest elasmobranch.

    PDFs are available here [as a new paper, King and Surry (2016) is available by subscription to The Canadian Field-Naturalist or by contacting the primary author]:

    Evermann, B.W. and E.L. Goldsborough. 1907. The Fishes of Alaska. Bulletin of the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, 26: 219-360.

    King, J.R. and A.M. Surry. 2016. First Record of Pacific Angel Shark (Squatina californica) in Canadian Pacific Waters. The Canadian Field-Naturalist, 130(4): 302-303.

    Belted Kingfishers (Megaceryle alcyon) usually take fishes – why else would they be called kingfishers. They sometimes take crustaceans and frogs, and I’d be shocked if they turn their beaks up at big juicy insects. However, mammal predation is quite a dietary shift. Apparently no one explained the meaning of “fisher” to a kingfisher in the southwestern Yukon.

    This female obviously read its species description. Looks like she caught a young goldfish. (From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belted_kingfisher#/media/File:Belted_Kingfisher_with_prey.jpg)

    A paper came out in a recent issue of the Canadian Field-Naturalist (see Jung 2016) detailing the capture of a Western Water Shrew (Sorex navigator) by a Belted Kingfisher. That would make a decent meal and a real energetic boost for the Kingfisher. Jung (2016) mentioned that Belted Kingfishers have been known to take Eastern Water Shrews (Sorex albibarbis), and he (Jung 2013) also reported on a kingfisher trying to subdue a Spotted Bat (Euderma maculatum).

    From: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8f/Belted_Kingfisher.jpg

    Imagine if kingfishers changed tactics to regularly prey on other small animals? Their ecology could converge on that of butcher birds (shrikes). What’s next? Lizards and snakes?(Yes, shrikes impale their prey on thorns (or barbed wire) to age a bit).

    Sure glad kingfishers aren’t the size of a Banshee or Leonopteryx from Avatar, or we’d all be at risk when swimming.

    Keep your eyes on the sky. And as for that specific Water Shrew, all you can say is: “Hair today, gone tomorrow.”


    PDFs are available here:

    Jung, T.S. 2013. Attempted predation of a diurnally active Spotted Bat (Euderma maculatum) by a Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon). Canadian Field-Naturalist, 127(4) 346-347.

    Jung, T.S. 2016. Predation of a Western Water Shrew (Sorex navigator) by a Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon). Canadian Field-Naturalist, 130(4): 299-301.