Wednesday, October 15, 2003

When I first moved to Bowen Island, I wrote a piece on the place names of Howe Sound which stands up pretty well today as my contribution to the Ecotone Wiki's collective blogging about place names for today. From that original post, I wanted to reiterate something Robert Bringhurst wrote about the Squamish name for Bowen Island, "Xwlil Xhwm." Bringhurst referred to that name as "a stony protuberance of meaning cloaked in a forest of evergreen consonants" which of course perfectly captures the sense of the place here. "Bowen" was a British Navy captain who never saw this part of the world. "Xwlil Xhwm" is all about the creation of the earth, the transformation of humans and the origin of the black-tailed deer.

Lately, there has been a wonderful effort underway to write history back on the land. Julian and Kathy Dunster have been busy naming all of the creeks on Bowen. Julian is a forester and Kathy is a biologist who hand drew a four by six foot map of Bowen for the Islands of the Salish Sea mapping project. Together they have been covering every square inch of the island searching for watercourses, and naming the ones that haven't been named yet. All of this naming reflects the post-European settlement and character of the island. Among the names of the creeks, streams and rivers are a bunch that reflect the names of Bowen Islanders past and present, and then there are these whimsical ones:

  • Bong Creek

  • Bang Creek

  • Drum Beat

  • Purple Haze

  • Kill Creek

  • Whine Creek

  • Stream of Consciousness

  • Drinking Cougar

  • Hanging Deer

  • Om Creek

  • Donny Brook

  • Dharma Creek

  • Dogma Creek

Wonderful, eh?

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