Two hands cradle an ancient Coast Salish war club. The club is being held up in front of the bottom of a totem pole.

Photo Credit: K'omoks First Nation

The Find of a Lifetime

Who made the war club and where it came from are still a mystery

Royston resident found a piece of history in his yard

Last April, Mark Lake was cleaning up his yard after a storm when he saw something unusual sticking out of the ground.

Lake, who lives at Gartley Point south of Courtenay, didn’t know what was partially buried under his maple tree. But it was weathered, kind of ornate, and about the width and length of an adult forearm.

Little did he know he had found an ancient Coast Salish war club. After friends saw a photo of it, they told him to contact the K’omoks First Nation.

K’omoks Chief Nicole Rempel called it an exciting find. She thanked Lake for bringing it to the Nation’s attention.

“It truly must have been a labour of love to have made something so intricate, and with so little tools, back in those times, so it really gives us a bit more information about who we were, who our ancestors were in the past,” Rempel told CBC.

Rempel said they are working with an archeologist to learn more about the club. They’re trying to find out who might have made it, how old it is, and what kind of stone they used.

Because no other artifacts were found nearby, the war club is like a mysterious snapshot of a time long ago. Nevertheless, a geochemical analysis might reveal the type of stone it was made out of. It could even tell us whether the club was made somewhere else and traded to the region.

Rempel told CBC that the war club is in excellent condition. She said it’s one of the most beautiful artifacts ever recovered from the local territory. And she has spent a decade bringing home K’omoks cultural objects.

Lake told CBC’s All Points West that he was excited to return it to the K’omoks people. They’ve been generous in sharing information with him as they learn more about the club.

“That’s reward enough for us, and we really enjoyed being part of the process,” he said.