Bill Henderson – Master Carver

Bill Henderson of the Wei Wai Kum Band of Campbell River is one of the most successful master carvers of his time,  and has established an international reputation with collectors of First Nation’s art.  He has been commissioned to carve several traditional totem poles to commemorate important Kwakwaka’wakw people and events, and creates dancing masks, paddles, bowls and plaques.  In 1983, he presented the town of Ishikari, Japan with one of his totem poles as a gift from its sister city, Campbell River.

Henderson began carving with his father, the late Sam Henderson, when he was seven years old.  Sam Henderson was not only an eminent Nak’waxda’xw carver, but also a devoted protector of ancient cultural traditions.  May Quocksistala Henderson,  Bill’s mother, was a high ranking woman of the Campbell River Band.  He also credits the great Kwakwaka’wakw master carvers Mungo Martin and Henry Hunt as major influences on his own work.  He distinctively carries on the Henderson legacy and passes on his knowledge and skills graciously to many of his nephews.

Henderson says that “the woods and waters of the [Kwakwaka’wakw] homeland are rich in animals and I have worked to capture the natural and supernatural figures in many of my masks”.  Pictured here is his Owl Mask, and the vibrant colours and strong lines speak clearly of Henderson’s skill and interpretation.

The Shop at the Campbell River Museum specializes in First Nations Art and carvings like the work of Bill Henderson.  Come in for a visit!


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The Campbell River Museum maintains collections and archives from Campbell River’s wide and diverse history, culture and community.  For more information about your local Campbell River Museum, call 250-287-3103 or visit

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