Fred Thompson of Port Alberni was part of a crew logging near Jennis Bay when he spied a face cut into a rockface that was ‘too perfect’ to be natural. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

QUINN’S QUIPS: Alberni man discovers a mystery in a rock face

Fred Thompson said ‘face’ revealed in rock after area was logged has to be man made

When veteran logger Fred Thompson agreed to drive a truck for a job in Drury Inlet on the central coast of British Columbia, finding a megalith was the last thing he figured he would be doing.

Thompson, 77, is a semi-retired logger from Port Alberni who picks up the odd job driving logging trucks for whoever needs the help. At the end of March he was working on a site in Jennis Bay—somewhere he had never been before. Jennis Bay is part of Drury Inlet, in Queen Charlotte Strait—near the Broughton Archipelago.

“My crew was driving by and one of them pointed to a rock formation and said ‘we call that guy Shawn, a nickname for the owner of the company,’” Thompson said. They dismissed the face in the rock as a natural anomaly of the cliff. After loading nine truckloads of logs throughout the day and staring at “Shawn,” Thompson said to himself, “no way—that is man made. If you put a plumb bob on it, I’ll bet it’s a perfect 90 degrees from the nose to the eyes.”

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A plumb bob is a weighted string used as a vertical reference line. Thompson said the lines in this megalith, or large stone monument, were too straight to have been created by natural force. He was sitting in the truck about 75 metres away, and estimates the stone figure is eight metres (25 feet) high and two metres (six feet) wide at the top.

Thompson said the features revealed in the rock face look similar to the stone moai (sculptures) on Rapa Nui, or Easter Island. The moai are carved human-like figures with oversized heads that sit atop large stone bases.

Did he uncover a cultural treasure?

It’s a possibility, although the shape of the stone is not characteristic of the artwork typical of the Indigenous people from the area. Jennis Bay is in Kwakwaka’wakw territory, and the Gwawaenuk First Nation lived and visited the Bay and Drury Inlet. There is evidence of a shell midden in the centre of Jennis Bay’s community, according to a local history of the area, and there are petroglyphs, middens and clam terraces in Broughton Archipelago Provincial Park close by.

In researching Indigenous history of the area I read an interesting article by Rick Hudson for Pacific Yachting on the clam terraces, which were a modern-day mystery only solved in 2003. They were unique to the Broughtons, which before contact were a large gathering place for tribes. More than 350 clam terraces, or gardens, were created by moving rock by hand into lines at the low tide mark on beaches in the area.

Jennis Bay was also the site of several substantial logging operations, and again according to local lore, there are almost-forgotten logging structures visible around the area from the early 1900s. So two possibilities of how the structure could have been made by man, and perhaps the story is now lost.

Thompson said the area has been logged previously, he thought around the time of the First World War, but this particular rock face had been hidden behind trees until late March 2020. He admitted there have been numerous slips or rockslides in the area, “but there’s no darn way that piece of rock in nature came that way…some intelligent being did that.

“It just stands out like a big, sore thumb.”

Thompson wonders what else might be in the area. “Is there more of it buried? What’s the deal?”

Susie Quinn is the Alberni Valley News editor. For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional DistrictFirst NationsforestryPORT ALBERNIvancouverisland

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Fred Thompson of Port Alberni was part of a crew logging near Jennis Bay when he spied a face cut into a rockface that was ‘too perfect’ to be natural. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

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