A mysterious, “large” face on the cliffside of an island in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve has recently been re-discovered by a man who has been searching for the face for over two years, according to government agency Parks Canada. Hidden on Reeks island on Canada’s west coast, a First Nation community is looking in to the significance of the giant face found on the mountain.
- Hank Gus, an aboriginal and member of the Tseshaht First Nation, spent two years looking for a face in a rock
- He heard about it from someone who had learned of a kayaker spotting the face in 2008 on the side of a cliff
- Gus began exploring the Reeks Island, part of the Broken Group Islands located in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve in British Columbia
- Recently he found the face, and now there may be an investigation to see if it is man made or a result of Mother Nature
- It looks remarkably similar to a Tseshaht carving on the door of the Tseshaht First Nation administration building.
- Is it an ancient carving or a message from the spirits of Tseshaht ancestors? These are questions being asked.
The discovery of the Rock Face
First known discovery in 2008
Sandy Floe, who was visiting from Washington State had stumbled upon the face back in 2008 while paddling in a kayak past Reeks Island in the Broken Group Islands when she discovered the rock face. She took pictures and sent them to Parks Canada but wasn’t able to pinpoint the precise location.
Karen Haugen, Parks Canada First Nations Program Manager, knew the island was in traditional First Nation territory and sent an email to Tseshaht First Nation administration office quoting the kayaker;
“I went in closer to shore, through kelp to explore a small gap in the rocky shore on the southeast side of Reeks Island. Suddenly I saw what you see in the picture. A face! I almost fell out of the kayak!” said Floe in the email to Parks Canada.
But the area in which the ‘face’ is located is treacherous. Floe writes that she navigated her kayak through a ‘chute’ between the reefs and the island to get a closer look at the face, but it was too dangerous to get out of the kayak to climb the cliff.
In spring 2008, archaeologist Denis St. Claire was sent to the ‘face’ to examine it further and, hopefully, make a determination as to whether the feature is natural or manmade. But the rugged shoreline prevented any close examination and St. Claire was unable to say how the face in the rock came to be.
In an email to Ha-Shilth-Sa, St. Claire wrote “It is difficult to access and it would be necessary for very calm water for someone to jump from a boat and climb to get close. This would need to be done to determine whether it is a natural formation or man-made… it certainly looks purposefully made, but nature can play tricks on us and that is why a very close-up viewing is necessary to see if there were tell-tale signs of rock modification.”
He said if a close examination indicates that it is not man-made, “since from a boat it does appear to be so, over the centuries many Tseshaht may have treated it as something very special and so it would have been, regardless of its origins. In my years of working with many elders during the 1970’s and 1980’s none of them ever referred to a rock face carving.”
Re-discovery in 2015
A beachkeeper from the Tseshaht tribe, Hank Gus, had heard about the “face in the rocks” years ago and had been searching for the carving for two years. Then, on 3 June 2015, he finally found the hidden treasure and took a cellphone video of the seven-foot-tall face carved into a cliff.
“It’s quite noticeable from the water; It’s pretty large,” he said.
“It’s about 40 feet up and from the top of the cliff, and it’s about another 20 or 25 feet down, at least. It’s high up and there’s bunch of rock cliffs on the side and it’s so hard to access.”
Gus finally found the carving and he says, to him, the face appears to be blowing, and is perhaps a symbol of wind. The face reminds him of a wood carving on the door of the Tseshaht administration offices.
“It’s something really similar to this face in the rock. Its name is Ugi and it describes when it’s blowing the wind, it’s sharing the history of our ancestors and keeping it alive,” he explained.
Tseshaht artist Gordon Dick said the carving is “Carrying the words of our Ancestors, yu’i sends the voice of encouragement and love urging us to preserve our culture, which anchors our language, songs, and our identity.”
The Reeks Island face appears to be blowing wind from its mouth, according to Mr Gus.
Now Tseshaht First Nation and Parks Canada are trying to solve the mystery of how it got there. Did someone carve it, and if so, when? Or is it a natural rock formation that only looks like a face?
To answer those questions would require a closer look, but its location is surrounded by a rugged shoreline and rough waters that, so far, have prevented close examination.
So for now, the mystery remains, which is okay with Parks Canada CEO Alan Latourelle. The mystery is what makes the face so fascinating, he says, and it’s what will probably attract visitors.
“It’s really a great discovery, but it’s also an inspiration for all the visitors that come to Broken Group Islands,” he said.
For Gus, it’s a discovery that may help him learn more about his ancestors.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s natural or manmade,” he says. “It just looks really nice to share with others who come and visit us.”
Location of the Rock Face on Reeks Island
The Broken Group is a group of small islands and islets in the middle of Barkley Sound on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The group is protected as the Broken Islands Group Unit of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, which includes Long Beach, between Ucluelet and Tofino to Barkley Sound's northwest, and the West Coast Trail between Port Renfrew and Bamfield, which is to the southeast. The group lies between Imperial Eagle and Loudon Channels and includes Brabant Islands, Hand Island, but not Pinkerton Islands. The southernmost of the group is Cree Island, the easternmost is Reeks Island. Benson Island, on the northwest corner of the Broken Group, is an important cultural site for the Tseshaht First Nation.
Reeks Island Coordinates: 48°55’25”N, 125°13’58”W Rock Face Coordinates: 48° 55′ 17.54″ N 125° 13′ 48.12″ W
Tseshaht First Nation
Tseshaht translates as “the people of c̓išii” while Nuu chah nulth means “all along the mountains and sea” and is descriptive of a people living along the mountains that face the Pacific Ocean. C̓išii is located on what is today known as Benson Island, one of the Broken Group Islands in Barclay Sound. The Tseshaht people were created at c̓išii and came to own all of the Broken Group Islands and lands up the canal to Port Alberni. Historically, the Tseshaht people were whalers and fishermen and their lives revolved around their territories on both land and water.”
A Lore from the Area
A lore from the area that talks about a Sea God who blew up terrible storms to stop the pale faces from coming to Vancouver. When they arrived, he was turned to stone. Legends of Vancouver
“It was all rock and dense forest, and unpeopled; only wild animals and seabirds sought the shelter it provided from the terrors of the West Wind; but he drove them out in sullen anger, and made on this strip of land his last stand against the Four Men. The Pale-face calls the place Point Grey, but the Indians yet speak of it as ‘The Battle Ground [Page 84] of the West Wind.’ All his mighty forces he now brought to bear against the oncoming canoe; he swept great hurricanes about the stony ledges; he caused the sea to beat and swirl in tempestuous fury along its narrow fastnesses; but the canoe came nearer and nearer, invincible as those shores, and stronger than death itself. As the bow touched the land the Four Men arose and commanded the West Wind to cease his war-cry, and, mighty though he had been, his voice trembled and sobbed itself into a gentle breeze, then fell to a whispering note, then faded into exquisite silence.
“‘Oh, you evil one with the unkind heart,’ cried the Four Men, ‘you have been too great a god for even the Sagalie Tyee to obliterate you for ever, but you shall live on, live now to serve, not to hinder mankind. You shall turn into stone where you now stand, and you shall rise only as men wish you to. Your life from this day shall be for the good of man, for when the fisherman’s sails are idle and his lodge is leagues away you shall fill those sails and blow his craft free, in [Page 85] whatever direction he desires. You shall stand where you are through all the thousands upon thousands of years to come, and he who touches you with his paddle-blade shall have his desire of a breeze to carry him home.'”
The presence of people in what is now called the Lower Mainland of British Columbia dates from 8,000 to 10,000 years ago when the glaciers of the last ice age began to disappear. The area, known to the Tseshaht First Nation as S’ólh Téméxw, shows archeological evidence of a seasonal encampment (“the Glenrose Cannery site“) near the mouth of the Fraser River that dates from that time.
The traditional territories of the Musqueam and Tsleil’waututh lie completely within the region; the southern portion of Skwxwu7mesh (Squamish) traditional territory is also in the region. Its claims overlap those of the Tsleil-waututh, Musqueam, and Kwekwitlem. Other peoples whose territories lie within the region are the Sto:lo,Chehalis, Katzie, Kwantlen, Tsawwassen, and Semiahmoo; many of their territories overlap with those of the Musqueam, and with each other. Many other peoples of the Georgia Strait region also frequented the lower Fraser, including those from Vancouver Island and what is now Whatcom County, Washington.
Sto:lo traditional territory, known as Solh Temexw in the Halkomelem language, more or less coincides with the traditional conception of the Lower Mainland, except for the inclusion of Port Douglas at the head of Harrison Lake, which is in In-SHUCK-ch territory, and the lands around Burrard Inlet.
Somewhere in Alberta in Canada you can spot mountains or large hills that look like the face of an Indian.
The ‘Rock Face’ could be an example of pareidolia, like the Indian Face (image left) in the mountains of Alberta Canada, or may be a carved face on a rock from an ancient and long-forgotten society, but for those of us who love a good old fashioned mystery it’s a treat.
Tseshaht First Nation wiki
Tseshaht First Nation website
Broken Group wiki
“Broken Group”. | BC Geographical Names
Reeks Island Coordinates: 48°55’25”N, 125°13’58”W
The Face on Reeks Broken Island, BC Panoramio
Rock Face location coordinates: 48° 55′ 17.54″ N 125° 13′ 48.12″ W
Articles in the News
Tseshaht Face in the Rock Mystery – Man Made or a Gift from Mother Nature? Hashilthsa.com June 9 2015
Large mystery face found carved into remote Canadian island 9News 21 June 2015
Mystery surrounds huge face etched into cliff on remote B.C. island CTV News 22 June 2015
Face hidden on Canadian cliff is found by explorer after TWO YEAR search – but was it made by humans or nature? DailyMail 24 june 2015
Seven-foot face carving found at remote B.C island Vancitybuzz 25 june 2015
Reeks Island ‘face’ in the rock Mysterious image resembles First Nation artwork AVtimesJune 30 2015