This Christmas as we took a family stroll along the Courtenay Riverway Heritage Walk I was enamored by my sister-in-law’s mother’s account of the strange posts jutting out of the water of the Salish Sea Comox Inlet. It wasn’t until I returned this Easter that I was able to take a closer look. Fortunately it was low tide so I mimicked the locals and jaunted upon the ebbed sea floor. As the story goes, the town of Courtenay, B.C. has submitted a proposal to the World Heritage Fund to have the fishing weirs designated as an official world heritage site. Why you ask? Because this sophisticated construction, built by the K’omoks First Nation, is carbon dated to be over 1200 years old! The application is pending but our fingers are crossed.
I asked myself as I was jumping across tide pools, how can widely dispersed tree trunks possibly contain fish? Upon further research I stumbled upon Nancy Greene’s work, which answered my questions. Nancy Greene is a local Archeologist who spent a year studying these weirs. In her research I discovered that time and water wore the majority of the posts away so in its prime, the K’omoks fishing weir looked something like this:
The evidence of the weirs’ structures shows that whoever engineered their design knew that their complexity would not only catch enormous numbers of fish but also stand the test of a significant amount of time.