Re: First Nations to reclaim name of Mount Doug (News, May 17)
I am in favour of restoring aboriginal place-names. Ethnographer Wilson Duff also had an interest in seeing them preserved, and devoted much of his career to ensuring these traditional designations not be lost. He regarded his native informants as friends, and believed that documenting pre-colonial place names could help B.C.’s First Nations establish aboriginal title.
In the 1960s, Duff consulted three Songhees elders who volunteered information about a site called Pkaals or Pkols. Two of them told Duff it was “the name of Mount Tolmie,” while the third said it referred to a “beach outside Cadboro Bay.”
I respect the efforts to restore the name Pkols, but would like to know to which place does it refer: Mount Douglas, Mount Tolmie, a beach near Cadboro Bay, all three?
I question the likelihood that Gov. James Douglas and his clerks embarked on a day’s ride through the bush and up a mountain (which had no road to its peak in 1852) to sign a treaty, when he could have the signatories visit him at Fort Victoria, as others had done, and where they frequently came to trade.
I understand this contradicts oral history, but no other sources suggest that Douglas (or any colonial officer) would have been so accommodating.