The displays are of Nootka First Nations culture, the natural history of the area, and the development of logging, the Mill, and the Tahsis community. The majority of the archival photographs are of the mill and town site during the 50’s and 60’s.
The Tahsis Historical Society and the Tahsis Economic Development Society jointly developed a brochure of a Local Heritage Walk featuring local historical buildings. The brochure can be picked up at the Travel Info Centre and the Tahsis Recreation Centre.
Tahsis first artist of note was Art Nicolaye of a First Nation family residing in Tahsis. Art is best known for his carved and painted murals done in the late 1970s for the walls of Captain Cooks Pub, others on display in the Tahsis Museum.
Over the last few years, many artists have come to live in Tahsis, and celebrate the area’s natural beauty in watercolors, oil paintings, carvings, writing, and song. In the last year musicians have joined the Tahsis Art Society and added musical events to the annual Tahsis Art Trail & CoffeeHouse held the July long weekend.
The Village of Tahsis 19 nautical miles from Friendly Cove was the dream of Mr. Gordon Gibson in the early 1940s.
Although many companies tried unsuccessfully to open mill operations on the wild west coast of Vancouver Island, he perceived several advantages to building at Tahsis. There was a level plateau at the head of the inlet with easy deep-sea access for ocean going vessels still accessible today. The site faced southeast, getting maximum sunlight to protect the freshly cut lumber from mould due to the rains. The logs needed to be handled once instead of being towed to Vancouver at considerable expense and with risk of loss due to high seas.
The valley was cleared except for an exceptionally fine stand of timber along the Tahsis River. The trees were felled and floated down the river right into the booming ground. The logs were sold in order to pay for the building of the new mill. The first accommodations were floating bunkhouses, with a cookhouse for the crew. In the 1950s Tahsis expanded, and a bustling village took shape with two churches, a school and a traveling medical man. The road from Tahsis to Gold River was opened to the public in 1972, attracting new families.
Tahsis became incorporated in 1972, with the election of the first Mayor and Council. In Tahsis’s heyday the population was roughly 2,500. With the closure and dismantling of the mill the population declined to approximately 600 permanent residents, with an additional 500 or more summer residents.
Between trading, alliances, and small wars, the First Nations people expanded and intermingled, creating a rich diverse array of settlements. The alliances between groups created a wider range of seasonal resources, resulting in an “annual round” of activities beginning in February when people moved closer to the outer coast for shellfish, bottom fish, Chinook salmon, herring and migratory birds.
Then, in April, people would leave to reside at resource sites on the outer coast. By late August and early September, the rains would return, causing the inner coast rivers and streams to swell and runs of salmon to return to their home spawning rivers. At this point, people would return to their local group’s home village to catch the spawning salmon and to preserve them for winter use. December was devoted to ceremonial events, the winter would pass in relative quiet, and the whole cycle start again with the February thaws.
1774 marks the first visit by a European vessel (Captain Juan Perez of Spain), followed by Captain Cook in 1778 who traded for sea otter pelts. As with other First Nations, the primary result of the opening of this trade was the introduction of at least eight deadly infectious diseases. Nearly 90% of the Nuu-chah-hulth speaking population was carried away by disease between 1780 and 1920.
Currently, the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations people number about 1000 and are scattered throughout North Vancouver Island with Band villages on Espinoza Inlet (Ocluje), and beside Zeballos (Ehatis) and Gold River (Tsaxana).
For more historical and heritage information on Tahsis and the Nootka Sound, visit the guides section of the website: www.tahsis.ca/guides
© 2005 Village of Tahsis, Box 519, Tahsis, British Columbia, Canada, V0P 1X0