A fellow Victoria blogger, "Postie," just posted a photo of the first Gorge Bridge, consisting of a few logs spanning the gap between the rocks that I showed in yesterday's photo. The photo above is taken from beneath the modern bridge. Just to my left (off camera) is a rather uninteresting looking mound of gravel. It is a shell midden over 4,000 years old, the oldest archaeological site on Southern Vancouver Island. This area was important to the Native Peoples both spiritually and materially.
This locality, here at the narrows of the Gorge waterway is a sacred place in the traditions of the Lekwammen (Songhees) Native People. It was here, at the reversible tidal falls that the spirit being Hayls transformed to stone a little girl named Camosun and her grandfather Snukaymelt ("Diving"). This act ensured the protection of the rich food resources of the Gorge - herring, Coho Salmon, oysters and ducks.Below is a photo of the modern Gorge Bridge. The shell midden referred to above is located in a sort of cage beneath the bridge on the right side in this photo.
On a spirit quest individuals went for long dives into the Gorge until Camosun granted them the powers they were seeking. It was believed that only a person who practised regular spiritual cleansing rituals would gain the powers necessary to acquire success in life.
It was the spirit Hayls who created the Gorge and turned some of Camosun's people into the Garry Oaks, Blue Camas and Easter Lilies that grow along its banks. The natural foam created by the reversing tidal falls was used to wash garments to protect their wearers from drowning.
(The above quote is posted behind a fence erected to protect the midden.)