Tilikum On The Move

by John West 2015

Tilikum Move

Tilikum emerging from the enlarged doorway through the back wall of the old Courthouse.(Photo courtesy of John West )

About fifty years ago the Maritime Museum of British Columbia took custody of the Tilikum - a converted cedar dugout canoe and one the most significant vessels in the rich nautical history of British Columbia. It had been stored under a rain cover in Thunderbird Park on the grounds of the Parliament Buildings for the previous thirty years. Originally restored by Victor Jacobsen, who was elected as a member of the Thermopylae Club in 1924, the ravages of time and weather were threatening its integrity. Since the Museum moved into the old Court house on Bastion Square it has been the centerpiece of the collection ever since.

To get it into the building a large wall was demolished, the vessel inserted, and the wall rebuilt essentially trapping the Tilikum inside. It was never properly displayed and interpreted in the old building and the move gives an opportunity to do the job more correctly in the future.

The origin of the First Nations canoe from which the Tilikum was fashioned is now shrouded in mystery and contradiction. No one can know, with any certainty, which of the most plausible versions is correct. We do know for sure that it is more than 125 years old and although restored again it is a fragile artifact of great importance and significance. When the Museum was forced to move to a new location the question was "How to deal with the Tilikum"?

Tilikum Move

Tilikum in the sun after 50 years on display. (Photo courtesy of John West )

Tilikum Move

Tilikum's restored figurehead replacing the one that rotted away at Canvey Island. (Photo courtesy of John West )

Tilikum Move

Tilikum looking as tiny and frail as she was in the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans. (Photo courtesy of John West )

Tilikum Move

Tilikum passing the site of her previous home on the grounds of the Provincial Legislature.(Photo courtesy of John West )

Along with the Trekka she will be housed and displayed at the cruise ship terminal at Ogden Point, Victoria BC.

Tilikum Move

Tilikum at Canvey Island on the English coast showing her without the original figurehead.(Photo source unknown. )

More detailed background can be found in The Nauticapedia article Tilikum: dugout canoe extraordinaire

Tilikum Move

Tilikum as she was originally displayed in the Museum.(Photo source unknown. )

Editor’s Note: John West is a Past President of the Maritime Museum of British Columbia and a lifelong enthusiast of floating heritage. Besides the Maritime Museum he has worked tirelessly for the Victoria Classic Boat Festival.



To quote from this article please cite:

West, John (2015) Tilikum On The Move. Nauticapedia.ca 2015. http://nauticapedia.ca/Articles/Tilikum_Move.php

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