A Road Story – Chapter Sixteen – Yan

Across McIntyre Bay to the west of Toe Hill is the deserted village of Yan, the ancestral home of the Eagle Clan. Jack, Bill Woof, Vera and I traveled by open boat across the inlet from Masset to Yan. Without going into detail, I will just say that motoring across in an 18 foot aluminium boat in 2 foot chop was an adventure. Thank goodness Jack was an experienced open water operator.

Yan as photographed by Edward Dossetter in 1881

Jack Litrell and April White on the beach at Yan

Today a commemorative totem and longhouse stands on the beach in front of a stand of trees. Behind those trees is a clearing where the village of Yan stood. There were 17 houses in the clearing and today only the remnants of timber walls, totem and mortuary poles remain. Jack told us that we needed to have a Haida guide to escort us through this ancient and hallowed site. He had arranged for April White of the Eagle Clan to meet us at Yan.

April had been out halibut fishing that morning and was still in her wet gear when we met her on the beach. She is a renowned Haida Artist.

April White

We then left the beach and entered the clearing where the village had stood until it was abandoned in 1881.

Examining one of the fallen giants in the village of Yan

April calls the totem figure Diver Boy and says that it is one of her favourites.

Diver Boy is one of the very few totems depicting an inverted human figure.

Close up of an unusual fungus at Yan.

At the end of the day we left Yan to travel back to Masset. We left with photographs and heavy hearts having heard the story of Yan and the sad history of the 1880’s.

About leftCoast Reflections

Peter Buxton - husband, father, photographer, skier, kayaker and sometime cook.
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