Ron Aleck was born on Chemainus reserve, near Duncan, in 1960. Aleck’s family crest is Eagle, which represents peace, power and friendship.
In 1977, under the guidance of his uncle William Good, Aleck began carving yellow cedar plaques, which would become a life-long love and profession.
Unlike some artists who produce plaques in bulk numbers, Aleck creates unique pieces that are carefully designed, shaped, and finished with meticulous care. He has a following of collectors who appreciate the intricate details in his work, such as individually carved fish scales and bird feathers. His designs are often whimsical and always full of personality. Some of his more popular designs include Great Blue Heron, School of Salmon, and Pod of Killer Whales.
Ron Aleck has completed countless custom orders for Copper Moon Gallery over the years, creating pieces for offices, yachts, private collectors, and gifts for guest speakers. He also was commissioned to create several canoe paddles through Art of Siem Gallery, for the Van-Isle Races. Aleck has participated in several “Spirit Pumpkin” fundraisers at Copper Moon Gallery, which involved carving pumpkins with native designs, which were
then sold by donation, with all proceeds going to Loaves and Fishes in Nanaimo.
Please contact Jennifer if you would like to learn more about custom ordering pieces through this artist.
Female Salmon by Ron Aleck
Salmon remains one of the most highly prized treats of the Pacific Northwest Coast, whether fresh, canned, candied or smoked. Central to coastal diet, Salmon are revered as the most prominent component of coastal indigenous cuisine, and are also a major source of sustenance for inland groups who are situated near rivers that swell with salmon during the return. Before and during contact with outsiders, summer villages were focused on the salmon harvest, as well as the Eulachon run.
In 1870, the first British Columbia cannery was built in Annieville. Soon after, canneries and salteries popped up along the coast, numbering approximately 1000 between Alaska and California, all of whom focused on Sockeye as an exclusive commodity until 1911. As supply declined, and World War affected trade, consumers adapted to availability, and Sockeye was no longer exclusive. During World War II, even dogfish and herring were valued for their oil, hence transformed the cannery industry. Canneries remained a massive coastal industry until reduction in production was altered by both supply and necessity. By the 1950’s, the availability of fridges and freezers resulted in a decline of salted and canned salmon even before the decline of salmon populations afflicted the coast. Today, there are only a handful of canneries in operation.
Salmon return to their ancestral streams, are revered for their homing instinct and symbolize fertility. Salmon is commonly depicted with Eagle, as Eagles have wonderful perception and fishing skills. What is less known, is that Eagles cannot release their catch until they have landed, so if they happen to reach for a salmon that is too powerful and large, the salmon can win the battle by
drawing the Eagle into the sea and drowning it - hence, the imagery of Eagle and Salmon is one that marks the battle that is central to the chain of life and survival of the fittest.
Salmon are generally easy to recognize, as they are designed with a curved head, closed mouth with gills at the end, a pectoral, spiny dorsal, soft, anal and caudal (tail) fin, and either scales or skeletal features. Some artists differentiate between male and female salmon, by adding eggs alongside the urogenital opening – which is often a small face to represent the life-giver.
Gulf of Georgia Cannery, Steveston BC
Campbell River Museum & Archives
Conversations with Ann Seaweed