Brentwood’s Welcome Totem

Wednesday, December 04, 2013 - By: Ian McPherson

Seldom does a gift to Brentwood trace its origins back to the School’s founding in 1923, but such was the dedication of the Welcome Totem on Thursday 21 November.

The Welcome Totem has a special place in the history of both the Coast Salish people and the Holmes’ family. The painting by preeminent Canadian artist Emily Carr, known simply as the Welcome Man, once hung in Desmond and Patricia Holmes’ Metchosin home. Now part of Carr’s iconic collection and on display at the National Art Gallery, the Welcome Man was originally purchased by Founding Governor Cuthbert Holmes and gifted to his son, Desmond (Class 1939).

Many years later, Desmond and Patricia’s son, Michael (Class of 1978), was contemplating a totem and as he researched the project, the importance of a welcome totem to the Coast Salish people surfaced in discussions. It prompted him to reflect on Emily Carr’s Welcome Man and its role in his family’s life. In consultation with his brothers, Richard and Peter (Class of 1979), Michael commissioned Cowichan Valley artist, Don Smith, from the Komiaken Tribe, to carve a welcome totem, on behalf of the Holmes’ family, in memory of their parents, Desmond and Patricia Holmes.

The Welcome Totem has taken pride of place at the entrance to Crooks Hall where outstretched arms will welcome you next time you visit. We extend heartfelt thanks to Desmond and Pat’s family, three generations of whom are Brentonians, for this unique gift.

Ian McPherson, Director of Communications & Marketing

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