As I Remember It: Teachings (Ɂəms tɑɁɑw) from the Life of a Sliammon Elder

Friendly Competition

And prior to them playing the guitar and drums and stuff like that, there was, like, a band. I don’t know who taught them how to play the saxophone, trombone. There was some people that learn to play the piano. Some homes in Church House had pianos. And how they got them up there – they were huge things! And someone knew how to play the piano. But they used to have a marching band. And we also had a marching band in Sliammon and in Squirrel Cove. So they used to compete. These two other villages would come down to Sliammon and they’d march back and forth in front of the church, near the beachfront. And I barely remember that part, where they used to do that. My grandfather, apparently, was one of them that played an instrument. And for the life of me, I don’t know who taught them or how they learned. I don’t know where they got the instruments from. But it was there. They’re beautiful brass. One of the old-timers that still used to play was Ambrose Wilson. He had a – I think it was a saxophone. He used to come visit our house and bring it with him and oh, he really knew how to play that thing. He really enjoyed playing it. And what other instrument was there? One of our guys, Bill Galligos, he was the Chief at one time, and he used to play the violin. Yeah. I don’t know where that instrument would have gone, but I remember hearing him play that. So there was a lot of talent, music-wise, and they seemed to really thrive and enjoy it and play together. It would be summer months they would be doing the competition for their brass band.

There used to be other types of competition, which was the race canoes. Every community had a race canoe. Klahoose and Homalco did. We had one. It was called King of the Sea. And Sechelt, Squamish, Cape Mudge, Comox, Musqueam, Campbell River. And they used to come to the front of our village, and they would race back and forth, competing. That was really something to see. I remember going to Cape Mudge and having it there as well. All the communities from up north had the same kind of sports. It’s different now from the canoes they use on the canoe journey, ’cause these are deeper and bigger. They’re meant for rougher waters. These race canoes were more for just competition. So that was really fun times. It involved a whole community, where people would just gather and down the beach and cheer them on and it was something to see. I don’t think there was any prize or any trophy that went to a winner, but it was just, you won and everybody knew who won.

Another competition they used to have was at one time there was this huge rock. It wasn’t really overly big, but it was quite round with no grip to it. And they used to compete – it used to be always in front of the church, down at the lower end of the field? And men would go there and compete who could lift that rock and walk with it. There were very few of the men that were able to lift it. And one of the fellas that used to pick it up and walk with it was not a very large man. But it was very awkward – just you get your arms around it and pick it up and then walk with it. It’s kind of slippery and kinda rounded. So they had a difficult time with it. And then that rock disappeared. I don’t know what has happened to it! Someone took a walk with it, and didn’t come back! [laughs] So that was the talk amongst the men, and who could walk with that. Who could go the furthest – or even lift it.

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