Travels in the west
“First Nations art, legends and ways of life were intriguing discoveries for me on my arrival in North America. So many cultures obliterated by European supremacy and folly! Crossing Canada by rail in 1949 allowed me to encounter a number of Aboriginal communities in Western Canada and on the Pacific coast. From that two-month stay, I brought back as many notes as I could with the aim of publishing something that I hoped would reveal their rich culture to others. But with no publisher showing interest, my project never got off the ground.” - Frédéric Back
During their honeymoon in the summer of 1949, Frédéric Back and his wife Ghylaine travelled to Western Canada. There, Frédéric painted and drew totem poles in the villages of Kitwanga and Kitwancool as well as along the Skeena River.
50 years later, when making the film Memories of Earth in 1999, Frédéric and Ghylaine returned to Western Canada, this time to the Queen Charlotte Islands, the lands once entirely occupied by the Haida. Frédéric sketched and painted Haida totem poles and the surrounding nature. He also met sculptor Jim Hart, the village chief of Masset.