Skidegate

Cartouche Artwork: Bill Reid. Model of Skidegate based on photography of E. Dossetter in 1881.

Skidegate is situated on a long stretch of beach on the northern shore of the entrance to Skidegate Inlet. A freshwater stream defines the eastern and western boundaries of the village and behind is a terrace, which marks an ancient beach line from the end of the last ice age. Beyond that are heavily wooded hills and small lakes which, in Haida mythology, are said to be inhabited by supernatural underwater beings or "Wasgo".

The village was likely named by early traders after the town chief, Skidegate, or "Son of the Chiton". After the flurry of the sea otter trade, which lasted from 1790 to 1820, had passed, few ships visited Skidegate.

In 1834, a Hudson's Bay Company post was established at Fort Simpson on the mainland coast, and from the outset the chiefs of Skidegate monopolized the trade from the villages further west on Skidegate Inlet, whose traders had to pass their village.

The first contact between Europeans and the people of Skidegate appears to have been made by Captain George Dixon, who anchored in July of 1787 off the entrance to Skidegate Inlet (MacDonald, 1994).

Textual Information for this Page: G.F. MacDonald, 1983.