Comox Glacier

Feature Type:Glacier - Mass of permanent snow and ice flowing from an area of snow accumulation on higher ground.
Name Authority: BC Geographical Names Office
Relative Location: NW of The Red Pillar at head of Comox Creek, SE side of Strathcona Provincial Park, Clayoquot Land District
Latitude-Longitude: 49°32'58''N, 125°21'12''W at the approximate centre of this feature.
Datum: NAD83
NTS Map: 92F/11

Origin Notes and History:

Adopted 12 December 1939 on 92F/11, as submitted in 1935 by Comox & District Mountaineering Club.

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office

"In the early part of this century, the Comox Glacier on Vancouver Island was also called Dome Glacier." (24 March 1971 letter from Simon Ommanney, Glaciological Research Institute of Canada, to Geographic Board (Ottawa file 26-P). Note that "The Dome" is labelled on BC Lands' map 2A, Vancouver Island (Southerly Portion), 1913 & 1920, in the approximate location of Comox Glacier.

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office

The K'ómoks name for the mountain known as Comox Glacier is Kwénis, meaning "whale" - it is the most prominent mountain in the area around Courtenay, and is associated with the traditional K'ómoks account of the Great Flood; this is the mountain to which the people anchored [their rafts when the water was rising], and a whale became stranded up here by the receeding floodwaters. Several variants of this well-known flood myth have been recorded, including the Pentlatch text relayed by the last family of that tribe to Franz Boas in 1886, who remarked that the Pentlatch and Comox had merged as one people. Boas recorded that: "A long, long time ago two men, Koai'min and He'k·'ten, descended from the sky. They became the ancestors of the PE'ntlatc [Pentlatch]. Once the sea receded from its shore and the women went far out and filled their baskets with fish. The bottom of the sea remained dry for a long time. But He'k·'ten was afraid that the water would rise that much higher later on. Therefore he made a long rope of cedar branches and tied four boats together. At last the water really flowed back and began to flood the shore. So he tied the rope to a big rock in the mouth of the PE'ntlatc [Pentlatch] River, fastened the other end to the boats and the two chief families floated about on the rafts. The other people begged He'k·'ten, 'Oh allow us to tie our boats to your rope. We will give you our daughters as wives' but He'k·'ten didn't allow it and pushed them away with poles. When the water receded again, they alone found their way home again, while all the others were scattered through the wide world. A whale remained stranded high up on the mountain near PE'ntlatc [Pentlatch] Lake. The water up there froze and [the whale] was unable to get away again. It can still be seen there today and that is why the glacier in the PE'ntlatc valley is called Kwénis." (information shared in March 2008 by K'ómoks First Nation, in turn excerpted from Island Comox Land Use and Reserve History, revised draft 18 June 1999, p.131)

Source: K'ómoks First Nation