One of the things I love about the idea of road trips is that they give you an opportunity to collect pictures of the most random things ever. And I, for one, live for the random. This is why, though I knew that the primary reason for visiting the town of Duncan is totem poles, I also couldn’t wait to find Duncan’s piece of randomosity.
Duncan is tiny. It is the smallest city in Canada by area, apparently – just over two square kilometers. However, this is actually a fantastic thing, especially if you only have a couple hours to spare to visit Duncan. It means that not only do you have the time to find all the totem poles and Duncan’s random prize, you’ll also have time to eat lunch before you hit the road again!
There are 80 totem poles scattered around the city and they’ve been there since the 1980s. It has become the world’s largest outdoor collection of public totem poles. The collection was designed to be a tourist attraction and they do a pretty good job at catering to visitors. Many poles have a sign that explains its designer/carver and its significance. There is also a trail of yellow footprints – if you follow them, they take you to most poles. It takes about an hour if you stop to read the signs and take photographs.
So what is a totem pole, you ask? Well, they are monuments that represent histories, a family’s lineage, an important person, or significant events. Totem poles originated in the Pacific Northwest by various First Nations groups. They are meant to be a form of documentation and they generally feature stylized forms, including human, animal, and supernatural. A totem pole is normally carved from Western red cedar trees (commonly found in this region and is rot-resistant) and may or may not be painted. These things are big – most are between 3 to 18m tall! Unfortunately, though, poles have about a 100 year life span – since they are wood, they do eventually disintegrate.
Once you’ve managed to find all 80 totem poles around Duncan and are ready to head out on the road again, don’t forget to look for the local community centre near the highway. It is here, on the side of the building, you will find Duncan’s randomosity: the largest hockey stick in the world! It’s even officially recognized by Guinness World Records. We did ask for directions from a local diner, one in which we had lunch. The waitress looked at us like we were crazy tourists but I didn’t care – in my mind, a successful road trip requires seeing at least one piece of randomosity!
What is the most random thing you saw while on a road trip?