Arts & Culture of Campbell River
A Rich Tapestry of Arts
Let yourself be inspired by the rich tapestry of arts and culture in the Campbell River region. Drift away on a mystical multimedia First Nations' voyage under the sea, admire the bold expression in totem poles, carvings, and performances celebrating Northwest Coast peoples, tour artist studios, or take in a performance at a civic theatre that really stands out- literally. It's painted peppermint pink!
Museum at Campbell River
Don't miss the Museum at Campbell River, a contemporary, international-class facility overlooking Discovery Passage on Oceanside Route 19A at the south entrance to town.
The museum's permanent exhibits feature pioneer settlement, logging, float homes, salmon fishing and First Nations' history. Top off your visit with The Treasures of Siwidi, a multimedia presentation of a mystical journey beneath the sea as told from a First Nations' perspective. During the show, a series of stunning masks are revealed as Siwidi meets each of his magical ancestors.
You can also watch The Devil Beneath the Sea, a documentary video about the record-setting detonation of nearby Ripple Rock. And your tour is not complete without stopping at the museum shop, where authentic First Nations' art, including silver and gold jewelry, masks, feast bowls and prints, is for sale.
Campbell River & District Public Art Gallery
The Campbell River and District Public Art Gallery is right downtown in the Tyee Plaza across from the Visitor Info Centre. It showcases contemporary works by local and visiting artists. In 2001, the gallery's theme is The Artist as Environmentalist. Drop by and take in innovative exhibits, artists' talks, lectures, and a lunchtime video series.
Downtown Campbell River's Tidemark Theatre is a local landmark, and its peppermint pink façade is just one of the reasons it stands out. Originally a movie theatre, the Tidemark is a civic performing arts venue that hosts local productions as well as performers from around the world. Be sure to take time during intermission to view the art display in the theatre lobby.
Wei Wai Kum House of Treasures
Stunning totem poles carved by the locally renowned Henderson family welcome visitors to this First Nations' gallery just a few minutes from downtown at Discovery Harbour Centre. Browse an impressive selection of First Nations' arts and crafts, including masks, jewelry, books and clothing.
Gildas Box of Treasures Theatre
Located in the Wei Wai Kum House of Treasures building, the ethereal Gildas Box of Treasures Theatre is modeled after a First Nations' Big House. Singers, drummers, and dancers wearing the ceremonial regalia of the Laichwiltach people perform during the summer. Traditional feasts feature barbecued salmon served with other First Nations' delicacies. Off-season performances are arranged by appointment.
Haig-Brown House Heritage Site
Visit Haig-Brown House, a British Columbia Heritage Site on the banks of the Campbell River, and get to know the famous fly fisher, conservationist, and author who lived here with his family for over forty years. Stroll through the woods; explore the banks of the Campbell River; observe salmon enhancement projects in Kingfisher Creek; shed your cares in the peace of the garden and reflecting pool. For true serenity, reserve a bed and breakfast room and drift to sleep to the sound of the river's soothing lullaby.
Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre
Just ten minutes from downtown Campbell River, sail by scheduled ferry to Quadra Island's scenic shores. The Potlatch Collection at the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre at Cape Mudge Village features sacred ceremonial objects such as masks, headdresses, coppers and other regalia used in Kwagiulth winter ceremonies. There's a vintage photograph collection, gift shop, and, on a nearby beach, over fifty ancient petroglyphs.
Cortes Island Museum
From Quadra Island, take a forty-five-minute scheduled ferry ride to remote Cortes Island, where the scenery and laid-back lifestyle are just two of the attractions. The Cortes Island Museum is another. Delve into local life at the recently opened museum in the old Manson's Landing Store building. Varied displays include Windows on Whaletown and the work of naturalist and author Gilean Douglas. The museum is open from late spring until early fall.
A variety of year-round and seasonal tours allow you to explore the region's historic and cultural sites by foot, vehicle, boat or by kayak. The Museum at Campbell River offers programs year round, with a summer focus on history outdoors and ongoing family events, workshops, lectures and films.
Local Traditions: The Hendersons
Many families have contributed to our diverse cultural heritage. The Hendersons of Campbell River have been instrumental in preserving and sharing Kwa kwa ka' wakw First Nations' traditions.
The family patriarch, Sam Henderson was born in a Nakwaktok village in 1905. His father was Scottish and his mother was Kwa kwa ka' wakw. He grew up at Blunden Harbour across from Port Hardy. Sam moved to Campbell River in 1934 when he married May Quocksistala, the eldest daughter of the local Wei wai kum Band's Chief John Quocksistala. Sam was a well- known master carver and his awe-inspiring totem poles, masks, talking sticks and other works are in museums and private collections worldwide.
May Henderson was active in the community and for years, held a salmon feast every summer on Tyee Spit. Throughout their lives Sam and May were dedicated to keeping their cultural heritage alive and instilling in their fifteen children a knowledge and respect for these ancient traditions. Since his death, Sam's spirit has lived on in Campbell River through an impressive Thunderbird totem pole and several feast bowls at the Campbell River museum. You can also see two of Sam's totem poles-among others-in downtown's Foreshore Park.
A special exhibit at the Museum at Campbell River featured the Henderson family. The Living Legacy of Sam and May Henderson showcased masks and other pieces from the museum collection, as well as items on loan from the family. Many of the objects in the exhibit are used in traditional First Nations' ceremonies today. Sam and May's descendants perpetuate their Kwa kwa ka' wakw heritage through carving, cultural performances, and other activities. As you're exploring Campbell River, drop by the House of Treasures gallery at Discovery Harbour Centre to see contemporary Henderson pole carvings and other Northwest Coast art. Henderson family members also perform with other dancers at Gildas Box of Treasures Theatre.
Arts & Cultural Accord
Campbell River is a proud member of the Arts & Cultural Accord.