Saturday, June 22, 2019

Why do we call the ocean the chuck?

Image from
When Wayne and I came to Powell River in Coastal
BC we had a lot to learn. We spoke American English (California style). Canadian English has some words spelled and pronounced differently (British style), but basically it's the same. However, a few words are unique.

First Nations peoples of the Pacific Northwest are seafarers. Mutual trade up and down the coast was established using language commonalities. When Europeans arrived, there were no similarities. Exploration was a focus, but trade was desired.

Without language, trade is difficult. A pidgin language was already used among First Nations. It was later expanded to include words from English, French and Spanish.

A pidgin language combines words from different languages. It's not a primary language. It's used for people with differing language backgrounds to communicate. Grammar is simple and vocabulary limited.

In the Pacific Northwest it's called Chinook Jargon (chinuk wawa). In 1863, George Gibbs compiled the Dictionary of Chinook Jargon, or, Trade Language of Oregon (New York: Cramoisy Press). It's available free online at the UBC Open Library and Gutenberg Project.

The first Chinook Jargon word we heard was chuck. Chuck means water and can be combined with other words for precision. Saltchuck is saltwater or the ocean. Chuck for short.

Out on the chuck, motoring through Seymour Narrows.

Skookum is strong, so skookumchuck means strong water. Aptly named Skookumchuck Narrows near Egmont at the mouth of Sechelt Inlet has strong tidal currents that result in dangerous standing waves. Here's a drone video by Jorgen Bjerke.

Powell River is in the traditional territory of the Tla'amin First Nation.  We are working through reconciliation for atrocities imposed on indigenous peoples across Canada. To help create better mutual understanding, the Tla'amin Nation reached out to the Powell River community through the Hɛhɛwšɩn canoe carving project.

Canoe carving was conducted at Willingon Beach park in town.

 Two canoes were completed, one large for tribal journeys and one youth sized.

The small canoe blessing was held at Powell Lake in February 2018.

I feel lucky to live in a place with such rich cultural history. Do you have any unique words where you live? What do they mean? -- Margy

Monday, June 17, 2019

Strait of Georgia Fair Weather Clouds

Halcyon Days in the Powell River North Harbour.
Wayne and I are back in British Columbia. We'll be here through summer living in our float cabin.

When we're in the States, we have a rolling RV. Up here we have a floating one, a Bayliner 2452 we call Halcyon Days.

Powell River is on the east side of the Strait of Georgia. From our moorage in the North Harbour we can easily set out for cruises on the salt chuck, chuck for short. That's what locals call the ocean.

John backing Halcyon Days into his driveway.
Last week we got our Bayliner back into the chuck after spending the winter up the lake at the cabin. But first there was a stop at our friend John's house for maintenance.

Then he took her down to the North Harbour for us. He's a full service kind of guy.

We'd prepared the boat for the cruising season while it was still up at the cabin so we decided to take her right out on a trip.

Our five day cruise took us island hopping north and west of Powell River. We started in Campbell River on Vancouver Island, then Heriot Bay on Quadra Island and finally Gorge Harbour on Cortes Island.

The narrow entrance into Gorge Harbour.

There were beautiful blue skies with fair weather clouds to enjoy and add to our photographic images. The seas were calm except for one day while in Campbell River.

A sampling of our fair weather clouds.

Oh, I forgot to mention. While John was doing maintenance he installed an arm for my chair. When the seas are rough, it's like riding a bronco. Now I have something to keep me from getting bucked off.

If you would like to read more about our cruise, stop by the Powell River Books blog. There you'll find out more about our trip and destinations. -- Margy