Totem Poles stay stoic at Spadina
They have been stoically welcoming riders to Spadina Station since 1979. Totem Poles (artwork by Gitskan First Nation from Hazelton, B.C.) have seen hundreds of millions of people come and go in the last 35 years, and in that time the elements have taken their toll on the wooden structures.
But thanks to Station Supervisor Steve Hannah and Janitor Joe St. Julien, the three totems (named Owl, Wolf and Hawk) have been restored to like-new condition with a little love and a whole lot of elbow grease.
“The original lustre of the wood was gone and they were covered in dust. So we researched the proper cleaning agents, spoke to a professional restorer and assigned Joe to get them back to their original state,” Hannah said.
After contacting the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, Hannah was put in touch with Donna Niven, Vice President of Wigwamen Inc. She manages the aboriginal housing complex around the corner from the station and was present for the official donation of the Toten Poles in 1979. Niven was surprised and grateful for the work that Hannah and St. Julien had done when she came to inspect the results recently.
“It was an honour to meet Donna, and to help bring the totem poles back to life,” St. Julien said. “Seeing them looking proud once more will bring smiles to people’s faces and improve the customer experience.”
St. Julien added that it took and lot of sturdy scrubbing, and some delicate touches around the around the noses of the totems, but once he could smell the red cedar he knew the totems had come back to life.