Project Story – The Leaning “Tunstall Totem” Sculpture
On a cold winter morning, November 5, 2022, I went down to my favourite lookout in Tunstall Bay. Perched on the cliffside bluff overlooking Tunstall Bay Beach, the Cedar Sculpture, often called the ‘Tunstall Totem’ by locals (even though it is not a true Totem carved by First Nations but rather a prop from a Movie Set), was leaning heavily after a harsh windstorm the night before.
The Movie, The Trap’ with Oliver Reed, was filmed in 1966 and converted Tunstall Bay into a historic West Coast Village. This sculpture was installed and used in the film. After the movie was completed, this Sculpture was purchased by a local and, to this day, has become a landmark for residents of Tunstall Bay and Islanders alike.
After the damage from the windstorm was spotted, further investigation showed the bottom had significant rot in it and was the reason for the lean. A local arborist, Shane Tweeten, was hired to come and remove the sculpture before it fell further, possibly falling down the bluff. He cut off the rot and investigated if the Sculpture could be spared and put back. After the removal of the bottom foot and a half of the Sculpture, the rest of the wood still looked great. Even after 56 years, the cedar was still solid!
My friend Katherine Gish suggested I apply for a small community grant to help pay for the materials to re-erect the sculpture, and so I did.
With the help of volunteers Adam Taylor, Galen Evans, Ishian Cruz, and myself, we set out to chip away concrete and stone from the previous foundation to increase the size of the cavity to enable space for a large metal bracket to help support the sculpture. Then concrete was mixed up, the metal bar was sunk into the concrete, then the Sculpture was raised and set into the concrete, and the bar was screwed into the back.
Once again, the Sculpture stands! Maybe it will last another 56 years! Many thanks to the NSG Partners (Bowen Island Community Foundation and the Vancouver Foundation) for funding this project.