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This weeks letter is "Q"
"Q" is for the Queen Charlotte Islands, Brisith Columbia, Canada
Photo from NASA looking west from mainland British Columbia from space
The moody, misty islands of the Queen Charlotte archipelago also known as Haida Gwaii by the Haida (“haida” means people) are 300 kilometres (180 miles) long, 100 km(60 miles) at their widest and located 100 kilometres(60 miles) off the northwest coast of British Columbia. The two main islands, Graham Island in the north and Moresby in the south, are divided by Skidegate Channel and separated from mainland Britiswh Columbia by Hecate Strait (considered the fourth most dangerous piece of water in the world when she is not happy)! Haida Gwaii, or “islands of the people”, has developed in isolation from the rest of the province, spared the effects of the ice age that covered the rest of BC until 15,000 years ago. As a result, the rainforests, wetlands, sand dunes, beaches, rugged mountains, streams and lakes of the Queen Charlotte Islands nurture a significant population of plants and animals that exist nowhere else on earth. In fact, because so many unique life forms have developed, the islands are often referred to as Canada’s Galapagos.
The archipelago was visited in 1774 by Jaun Perez (at Langara Island) and in 1778 by Captain James Cook. In 1787 the islands were surveyed by Captain Geroge Dixon. The islands were named by Captain Dixon after one of his ships, the Queen Charlotte, which was named after Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III of the United Kingdom.
Queen Charlotte as a young brideThe name Haida Gwaii is of modern coinage and was created as an alternative to the colonial name "Queen Charlotte Islands", to recognize the history of the Haida Nation. No longer in common usage is the more ancient and original name of 'Xaadala Gwayee' or, in alternative orthography, 'Xhaaydla Gwaayaay', meaning Islands on the Boundary between Worlds (Xhaaydla), 'Worlds' referring here to the forest, sea, and sky; indeed, the coastal villages of the Haida often occupy the meeting-point of these realms.
Ancient Village site
Contemporary clan gathering at Haida Heritage Centre