Site Memories: Murmuring Crows

Winner of the 2013 
City of North Vancouver Public Art Award

As early as the Vikings crows were brought on board ships as seafaring scouts. Crows were released during foggy weather and led the ship’s crew safely to shore. Crows were kept in a special basket at the top of masts which became known as crow’s nests – they were also lookout posts. Crows appear in world mythology in various roles as soothsayer, creator and cleanser. Many cultures believe the crow sees the past, present and future all at once. Crows lead us to this site and a memory that symbolizes the hundreds of ships that called at Moodyville.

The Benjamin Sewall was one of the last tall sail ships to load timbers from Moodyville Sawmill. She left Moodyville fully loaded with first growth timbers, in November 1901, arriving in Fremantle, Australia in May 1902. It was one of her final voyages, she capsized off the coast of Taiwan in October 1903. Moodyville Sawmill closed at the end of 1901. The steam engine invented in 1897 ended tall ship transport.

It was the end of an era.

Site Memories: Murmuring Crows creates connection from the past to the present, from the natural world to the industrial, from the world of site memories to the present day.

The Crows and corresponding text, sand blasted onto boulders along Spirit Trail, share Crow mythology while leading viewers through the park to the memory of a ship, the Benjmain Sewall. The Sewall was one of the last tall sail ships to load first growth timbers from Moodyville Mills. Her story, created from words. is stamped directly into the asphalt surface of the path. The texts explains the history of the Sewall while allowing viewers to gain some understanding of the size of the tall ships that anchored within sight of the Spirit Trail pathway. An aluminum crow is installed on one of the three Douglas Fir trees and represents the centre mast of the Benjman Sewall – the crows nest would have been atop this mast.

Spirit Trail ~ City of North Vancouver 2010