The carvers of the MAE Argillite Collection hail from across Haida Gwaii. Their skill and knowledge shines through each of their carvings and we graciously thank them for sharing their stories. Each artist played an important role in the history of North American art, challenging the and expanding the visual art world. Through their work and teaching, they have encouraged and supported generations of artists to explore and share their own artistic expressions'. Explore each artists/carver’s story and learn how they encouraged others to follow in their footsteps.


Owt’iwans (Big Eagle) | Andrew Brown 1879-1962

Given his father’s name, Owt’iwans was born in Yan, Haida Gwaii in 1879. As a carver, he was often called ‘Captain’ because he favoured carving canoes which he would sell to tourists visiting the area. Owt’iwans also became famous for his totem pole carvings and was often asked to sign his work by the people visiting the island. Owt’iwans would sign his carvings with his English name Andrew Brown. After a long and successful career, Owt’iwans passed away in 1962 at the age of 83.

Tlajang nang kingaas (The one who is known far away) | Claude Davidson 1924-1991

Tlajang nang kingaas served as Chief of the Village of Dadens, Langara Island, Haida Gwaii for the majorety of his adult life. During the 1950s, he took up argillite carving and was praised for his engaging designs. Tlajang nang kingaas encouraged his sons guud san glans (Robert Davidson) and skil kaat’laas (Reg Davidson) to continue the family carving tradition. With his support, both sons went on to become world famous visual artists working in a wide variety of media. 

Edmund “Ed” Calder 1900-1978

Growing up in Old Massett, Haida Gwaii, Edmund Calder taught himself how to carve both wood and argillite. Though this work, he became famous for his intricate model totem poles featuring a unique style of stippling and rounded forms. Edmund Calder went on to inspire his nephew, James McGuire, to become a world famous Haida jeweller. 

Eli Bell 1919-1978

Living on Old Massett, Haida Gwaii, Eli Bell was a respected carver and teacher. He taught generations of carvers in traditional Haida styles and methods. His work was famous for featuring symbols of his family crest - a two-finned whale with a Grizzly Bear. Over his life he collaborated with many artists including fellow Haida artist Hector Thompson. 

Hector Thompson 

A well known teacher and carver from Old Massett, Haida Gwaii, Hector Thompson’s work often featured the Raven and other famous animals from Haida oral history. He would also work collaborative commissions with other local artists including Eli Bell. 

John Yeltatzie 

John Yeltatzie grew up in Old Massett, Haida Gwaii. As an artist, he has used his work to help Haida youth reconnect with their traditional knowledge and heritage. John Yeltatzie’s is also an advocate for environmental education and preservation, a theme of which can be seen depicted through much of his work.

Moses Ingram 1906-1990s

Born on Old Massett, Haida Gwaii. Moses Ingram was a traditional argillite carver. His work features many iconic motifs and celebrates Haida culture. Along with his carving, Moses is remembered as an important storyteller and a skilled musician.

Reg Davidson | skil kaat’laas | Kiiglaajuwee | hlk’iann k’usdann sgaanuwaa  1954-Present

Reg Davidson was born in 1954 of the Eagle Clan of the Haida Nation. He began carving in 1972 and comes from a long family of artists; his brother is Robert Davidson, father is Claude Davidson, grandmother is Florence Davidson, and his great-grandfather was Charles Edenshaw. He won the British Columbia Creative Achievement Award for First Nations Art in 2008. He is also a singer and dancer with the Rainbow Creek Dancers.

Rufus Moody 1923-1998

Rufus Moody is one of the most prolific argillite carvers of the twentieth century. He belonged to the Tanu Wolf Clan of the Haida Nation and his family were well known carvers within the community. Having learned from his father Arthur Moody, Rufus went on to receive international acclaim not only for his carvings, but also for his teaching of traditional knowledge to younger Haida artists. In honor of his teaching and artistic achievements, in 1976 Rufus Moody received one of Canada’s most prestigious awards, the Order of Canada. 

Steve R. Collison 

Steve Collison grew up in Old Massett, Haida Gwaii and is one of many prolific carvers from the area. 

Tom Hans | Aye Aye 1925-Unknown 

Growing up in Skidegate, Haida Gwaii, Tom Hans begain carving at the age of 13. A member of the Eagle clan, he learned carving from his father and quickly became famous for his detailed craftsmanship. Tom Hans’s work often depicted Haida myths and legends and celebrate local traditions. Following in the footsteps of his father, Tom Hans went on to teach generations of Haida carvers. 


The Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology would like to acknowledge the generosity of the donor who gifted this argillite collection. It was amassed while resident in Prince Rupert directly from the many carvers he came to know and respect.

We are grateful to be trusted as caretakers for the collection and hope it continues to inspire Museum visitors for years to come.