Cane from Port Townsend collection is part of Vancouver, B.C., museum overview
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The James Swan-Charles Edenshaw cane is on loan to the Vancouver Art Gallery until Feb. 2.

Peninsula Daily News

VANCOUVER, B.C. — A crabapple wood and walrus ivory cane from the Jefferson County Historical Society collection is among more than 200 pieces featured in the Vancouver Art Gallery's exhibit on Haida artist Charles Edenshaw.

The exhibit will on display through Feb. 2 at the museum at 750 Hornby St., Vancouver, B.C.

The exhibit is the first major survey of Edenshaw, who lived from 1829-1920, and includes pieces from public and private collections from all over the world, said Bill Tennent, director of the Jefferson County Historical Society.

The Edenshaw piece borrowed from Port Townsend was collected by James Swan in 1883, Tennent said.

“The cane is one of the jewels of the JCHS collection,” Tennent said.

“It is beautiful in its own right as an artwork, but it is also connected to one of Port Townsend's most prominent historical characters.”

Swan, who lived from 1818 to 1900, was a judge, artist, explorer, justice of the peace, ethnographer, railroad speculator and collector for the Smithsonian Institution.

In Winter Brothers, Ivan Doig's book about Swan, he describes being moved by the beauty of the cane when he first saw it in the Jefferson County Museum.

The cane is also mentioned in Native Visions by Steven Brown.

Becky Schurmann, the historical society's collections manager, spent more than a year negotiating the loan with officials from the Vancouver Art Gallery, Tennent said.

He added that among other considerations were international transport of endangered species — since the cane has abalone inlay — and possible repatriation of the artifact by the Canadian government.

Edenshaw “was recognized in his time as an exceptional Haida artist and remains an iconic figure in Northwest Coast art,” the museum says on its website at

“His work serves as a testament to a tremendous individual spirit and a singular talent.”

The Vancouver museum's overview of Edenshaw's work is presented in four stages: “Haida Traditions,” the foundations of the artist's craft; “Style,” which examines the artist's approach; “New Forms,” which concerns changes in Edenshaw's work upon increased contact with Europeans; and “Legacy,” which displays copies of Edenshaw's designs and works by his contemporaries for comparison.

The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with adult admission $17. From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays, admission is by donation.

To check on hours and fees, phone 604-662-4719.

Last modified: January 15. 2014 7:18PM
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