I’m The Salford Totem Pole

On March 28th, singer-songwriter Pete Martin emailed MOA with a song he wrote called, “I am the Salford Totem Pole”. The song is about a totem pole carved by Doug Cranmer in 1969 for a commission given to him by the (no longer existing) Manchester Liners. The pole was an emblem created with the aim of representing and celebrating the history of trade between Canada and the United Kingdom. The pole was brought back to the United Kingdom and stood in Salford until it was taken down due to weather damage in 2005. Somehow, the totem ended up in a warehouse in Salford Quays until it was found by Councillor Steve Coen who requested it be displayed again in Salford proper and restored.

Kevin Cranmer, Doug Cranmer’s nephew, and his cousin Edgar Cranmer worked with Bruce Alfred in the summer of 2010 to restore the pole. Originally carved from British Columbian Pine (most totem poles are carved from red cedar), the three carvers used planks of cedar to restore the damaged fragments of Doug Cranmer’s original pole. On July 1st, 2010, the fully restored pole was displayed in Trafalgar Square in London in collaboration with the Canadian Embassy on Canada Day.

With the restoration complete, the pole was brought back to Stanford in early 2011. There was some deliberation over where it would be raised. There is an outlet mall that is a popular gathering place for the public and the decision was made to raise it there.

This last clip shows the people of Salford voicing their thoughts as to where the pole should be raised. Currently, it is on show in the Museum Of Museums at the Trafford Centre in Manchester, UK, just beside Salford, but will be returning to its adoptive home in the coming months where it will be given a permanent location.

It is fascinating for us at MOA to see Doug Cranmer’s work celebrated so enthusiastically in a place so far away from where Cranmer’s first “exhibition” is being held. This

is a quote from Richard Sumner that, I feel, best encompasses the majesty and tone of the Salford Totem Pole, Pete Martin’s song and Doug Cranmer himself. The discovery of something so international contrasted to Cranmer’s humble nature make this even more extraordinary.

“I think he just liked to fly below the radar. He was happy if he had a glass, his car, a pack of smokes and a bottle of scotch. He’d leave all the glory to everybody else. He wasn’t really one to toot his own horn. It’s up to us to do it.” –Richard Sumner.

By Matthew Willis

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