World renowned Haida carver Clarence Mills has been carving this particular totem on and off for about five or six years. He says it’s probably his last.
It’s not every day you spot an actual totem pole being carved in an East Van garage. My kids and I took a detour down an alley last week on the way to school, in order to avoid a nasty dog that had chased my son. I’m so glad we did.
As we passed an open garage door, I couldn’t help but notice a beautiful, gleaming, 20-foot totem pole, lying faces up. A man was carving various parts of the totem.
Of course I had to stop and chat. I was stunned to learn the man wielding the adze — a carving tool that hasn’t changed in centuries — was none other than world renowned Haida carver Clarence Mills. He’s been carving this particular totem on and off for about five or six years.
After sizing me up for a moment, Mills kindly took me through his totem, carved from gorgeous western red cedar. He started with the first animal at the beginning of the totem, “not to be mistaken for the bottom,” as Mills explained.
“At the beginning is a beaver, and then a moon, and then a raven, and then a sun and finally an eagle.” It’s a stunning piece of art. Mills has no idea where the totem will end up, but estimates it will sell for roughly $60,000.