Born in 1950, John takes the Bear as his family crest.  His father was who first began teaching him canoe carving techniques when he was just 7 years old.  In his teens, he spent time with his uncle Spencer in Alert Bay working on totem poles.  Adopted into the family of  Jack James in his twenties, John Gibson (Stomish) has spent the majority of his life carving masks and totem poles from Alder.

Totem Pole by Stomish (John Gibson)

  • BEAR


    On the Pacific Northwest Coast, Bears are correlated with humans, as both rely on berries and salmon for sustenance. Bear is also considered an ancestor, and as such, are revered as a friend to man rather than a threat.


    Bears weave a special connection between spawning salmon and the health of the forests they live in, as salmon are full of nitrogen which acts as a superb fertilizer for the forest. During the spawn, Bears take advantage of their opportunity to benefit from the abundant food supply by eating their favorite parts and discarding what they fancy less. In general, it is said that Bears only consume about 5% of any given salmon they pull from streams during the return, which is why Bears have been given significant credit by the scientific community, for helping to maintain the health of the forest.


    To identify a bear, look for a short snout, canine teeth, small ears, claws, and a short tail. Bears are often depicted with salmon, cubs, and humans. Wolf and Bear can look quite similar on jewellery, with the wolf having a much longer snout and tail. To differentiate Bear from Sea Bear, look for fish-scales where Bear would otherwise have fur.


    Cheryl Shearar Understanding Northwest Coast Art (2000)

    Campbell River Museum & Archives