Born in Victoria, B.C. in 1915, Hughina Harold (née Bowden) died on June 28, 2001 at age 86. She gained her nursing degree from Royal Jubilee Hospital in 1935 and soon began a two-year stint as a young nurse and teacher at the Mamalilikulla Indian Day School on Village Island, at the mouth of Knight Inlet, from the 1935-1937. Her lively letters from Village Island to her family in Victoria served as the basis for her coastal memoir, Totem Poles and Tea (Heritage House, 1996; 2006) first published 60 years later, when she was 82, with archival photos gathered by Rodger Touchie.

In 1935, as Hughina Bowden, she worked with Kathleen O'Brien who had started a small 'preventorium' to care for children stricken with tuberculosis and other "white men's diseases." She also practiced nursing on Vancouver Island and married a young enlistee in the RCAF at the beginning of World War II. Having retrieved the letters that were kept by her mother, Hughina Harold re-read them in 1960 and began submitting stories based on the letters to Eileen Laurie's CBC Radio program Morning Visit where they were serialized. After American anthropologist Harry Wolcott heard some of these stories, he contacted Harold and used her as an informant for his book A Kwakiutl Village and School (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967), mainly derived from his own research on Village Island. Later, Harold's 1985 visit to the remains of the settlement on Village Island spurred her to collect her own material once again for Totem Poles and Tea, republished in 2006 with a new foreword by United Church Minister John Cashore, a former B.C. Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.

[BCBW 2006] "First Nations" "Education" "Indianology"

Review of author's work by BC Studies:
Totem Poles and Tea