People / Doug Cranmer

Artist, educator. A member of the Namgis First Nation, Doug Cranmer was born in 1927 in alert Bay. He received formal instruction from Kwakwaka’wakw master carver Chief Mungo Martin in the 1950s. During this time, Cranmer met and befriended Bill Reid. Reid and Cranmer then worked together on a large project for the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, carving five totem poles and overseeing the construction of two Haida houses now situated on the Museum’s grounds. As a consequence of his association with Reid, the breadth and depth of Cranmer’s understanding of Kwakwaka’wakw two-dimensional design expanded to include northern variations articulated by the Tsimshian, Tlingit, Heiltsuk, and Haida artistic traditions.

Upon completion of the project at the Museum of Anthropology, Cranmer, A.J. Scow, and Dick Bird established The Talking Stick, a commercial gallery, in 1962. Along with the Neel family’s carving studio in Stanley Park, The Talking Stick gallery was one of the first instances of First Nations artists promoting and selling First Nations art. During the 1970s, he continued to develop the use of two-dimensional design to interpret traditional myths, leading the production of a series of non-representation paintings on mahogany plywood. Cranmer also worked as an educator, teaching carving for many years at ‘Ksan (Hazelton, British Columbia), at the Vancouver Centennial Museum (now the Vancouver Museum), and in his hometown of Alert Bay. Cranmer passed away in 2006.

  1. 05. Bill Reid and Doug Cranmer carving cedar log in Totem Park
    Doug Cranmer and Bill Reid (Photograph)
  2. 06. Bill Reid and Doug Cranmer carving the frontal board of Haida Mortuary pole
    Doug Cranmer and Bill Reid (Photograph)
  3. 07. Doug Cranmer carving at Totem Park
    Doug Cranmer (Photograph)