Vancouver Centennial Plaque #27 – Whoi-Whoi


Lumbermen’s Arch


Stanley Park


Missing (as is the Places That Matter sign, but there is another plaque)



The original people of this region, the Salish, lived here for many centuries before the arrival of the first European explorers and settlers. From their village near this site they paddled out to greet Captain Vancouver and his crew on June 13, 1792.”

Credit: Vancouver Centennial Commission, Historic Plaque Program – list and documentation plaques 1-49 (June 18, 1986). Courtesy of Vancouver Archives

X̱wáýx̱way (written in English as Xway xway or Whoiwhoi) is the site of a First Nations village site, in what is now Stanley Park.

While the 1986 plaque focused on the people’s connection to the white settlers, there is another larger information sign at the site:


You are standing on thousands of years of history. The clearing around Lumbermen's Arch has been the perfect gathering spot for generations.


The local Coast Salish named this site X̱wáýx̱way (pronounced whoi-whoi), meaning “Place of the Mask." They believe a mask arrived here from the Spirit World, leaving its ceremony and song for the Coast Salish to honour its memory. This area, which once supported a large village, had ready access to a wealth of food and materials. It also provided protection from prevailing winds and calm waters for landing canoes. People from surrounding villages gathered here by the thousands for potlatches to celebrate community events. In the 1880s, smallpox devastated the people of X̱wáýx̱way and the survivors relocated to villages around the region.


A very old garbage dump. or shell midden, lies beneath your feet. Shell middens are deposits of broken shells and debris from old First Nations villages. They contain a mixture of food scraps, used tools and discarded household items. This midden was one 1.6 hectares (4.3 acres) in size and 2.5 metres (8 feet) deep. In 1886, a construction crew hauled away half of it to pave 5 kilometres (3 miles) of park road. It now forms the long grassy mound behind Lumbermen’s Arch.”

Credit: Text from Stanley Park information sign at Lumbermen’s Arch

More importantly, there is a Places That Matter sign, which was written by the Musqueam First Nation:

“χʷay̓χʷəy̓ was once a large Musqueam village, with several longhouses, and home to hundreds of our ancestors at a time. χʷay̓χʷəy̓ is also an important spiritual site to our people. It’s from this village our ancestors received the sχʷay̓χʷəy̓ mask and teachings; a culturally sensitive hereditary cleansing right.

The area around χʷay̓χʷəy̓ and spapəy̓əq was important for clams, a resource we had little of in the river delta. In the 1880s remnants of our village (8ft deep shell layers), our ancestors, and belongings were dug up by construction crews and used as road bed for the first road around Stanley Park.”

Credit:: Musqueam First Nation on the Places That Matter site 

Unfortunately, although there’s a PTM entry online for the village, the plaque doesn’t seem to be currently installed.

In order to amplify Indigenous voices, I didn’t want to draw my own interpretation of X̱wáýx̱way, so this is a map of the area with some of the traditional Musqueam names.

Leave a comment

Name .
Message .

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published