Canada has a complicated history with the totem pole. Totems have been misunderstood, coveted, stolen, quashed, copied, and celebrated.
The first recorded mention of a pole, which was a house pole, was on Langara Island in the Haida village of Dadans, c.1790, by John Bartlett, who wrote:
“We went ashore where one of their winter houses stood. The entrance was cut out of a large tree and carved all the way up and down. The door was made like a man's head and the passage the house was between his teeth and was built before they knew the use of iron."