Clam Gardens with Judith Williams
by Heather Harbord, 7 May 2016
Eighteen members attended the May 7th, 2016 field trip following Judith Williams’ talk on Clam Gardens. Since Judith was unable to walk far, most of us did not go down onto Westview Beach which is mapped on pages 110-111 of her 2006 book Clam Gardens; Aboriginal Mariculture on Canada’s West Coast.
Instead, we carpooled from the meeting place at the start of the Seawalk to the foot of Oliver St. We then walked along the side of the road stopping en route for Williams to point out the patterns in the rocks on the beach that Sliammon Elder Norm Galligher had told her were the fish traps and clam gardens that Elisabeth Harry had asked her to investigate. Both Gallagher and Harry passed away shortly after this so Williams was unable to question them further though other band members were able to help.
When she tried to report her findings to the BC Archaeological survey they disbelieved her saying that there was nothing in the literature. Previous researchers had only talked to men. The clam gardens were the prerogative of women and were a highly organized activity dating back thousands of years.
One of the Malaspina Naturalists attending the trip said she remembered seeing a 10 lb Ling cod caught in one of the traps even though it had not been kept up for decades. In retrospect, we would prefer to do this down on the beach so that we could get away from the noise and danger of the almost continuous traffic.