In 1995, Peter Johnson went looking for a rare set of petroglyphs located on the outer coast of Vancouver Island near an abandoned whaling village. Encouraged by archival research that yielded court records, 90-year-old correspondence and a tantalizing 1926 newspaper article, Peter sought to tie these glyphs to the 1869 wreck of the trading barque John Bright and the bizarre colonial trial that followed. He found more questions than answers. Why, for example, were two Nuu-chah-nulth men so readily hung from a gallows erected in front of their village at Hesquiat? And how did this event relate to the rock carvings that Peter knew existed in a cove many miles south, along the life-saving West Coast Trail by the Graveyard of the Pacific?
This story explores the significance of particular petroglyphs, colonial injustice and the European trading mentality on the west coast at the time of contact. Peter interweaves a personal journal with historical narrative in order to produce a lively account of the relationship between our coastal history and a little-known Aboriginal art form.