"You could get along without anything else on the coast except the canoe. It had to come first and it had to work. I think a great deal of Northwest coast form comes from the canoe form."
-Bill Reid, Haida artist and canoe maker, q’adasgu qiigawaay clan, 1975.

The ancient Haida were expert canoeists. Generations of hard and practical experience made them unsurpassed designers, makers and users of canoes. The rugged, broken coastline of the islands and the bounty of the sea demand a dependence on water transportation to this day. Furthermore, the finest dug-out canoe trees in the world grow on Haida Gwaii--giant sized western red cedar taken from deep within the rainforest have perfect grain.

The skill of Haida canoe makers and the quality of their product was recognized by all neighbouring First Nations. Canoes were their most important export, traded to the Tsimshian, Bella Bella and Tlingit peoples. Fleets of new Haida canoes, loaded with dried halibut, lengths of cedar bark, or potatoes set out across the sometimes treacherous Hecate Straits to trade for oolichan oil, the hides, meat, and horns of mountain goat and sheep, and other items not available on the islands.

Canoes were the vehicles by which marriage alliances and wars were conducted. Invitations to feasts and potlatches, and the arrival of guests came by way of canoe.
The Haida Gwaii Community
the Old Massett Village Council's Economic Development and Heritage Resources, the Haida Gwaii Museum at Qay'llnagaay, and Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site.

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