“Quiggly hole”, “quiggly town” and “kick willy”

Acknowledgments are due to Mike Cleven for making me aware of these Canadianisms borrowed from Chinook Jargon.  Here’s another good online discussion of uniquely Canadian words.

There are a lot of ways to spell them, such as “kekuli”, “keekoolie”, “kikwilli”, and “kickwillie”, but I’m going to focus on the ones starting with Q.

Quiggly (quiggley, quigly, quigley) holes are precontact-style pit-house dwellings made mostly in the interior regions of the Pacific Northwest, by excavating and then walling and roofing a large living space.  They’re linked with Salish and Chilcotin people, notably.

The couple of them that I’ve set foot in seem pretty comfortable to me.  A keekoly hole is mentioned in the Cadwallader Creek article “Story of a Stump” that I wrote about a while back. Here’s a fairly traditional one:

quiggly hole

And here’s a modern structure at the Sorrento Centre in BC, inspired by the older ones:

Quiggly hole - Kekuli-1

A quiggly town is presumably a settlement consisting of several of these winter dwellings.

Weirdly, in a 1965 book “Our Natural World: The Land and Wildlife of America”, Hal Borland says “kick willy” is a name for the marmot too, because people hear this animal kicking dirt out of the way as it digs!  If true and if from the Northwest, this could be a neat folk etymology from Jargon on the order of “hump puss” for skunk.

quiggly marmotAnd a commenter at a naturalist blog says that “kick willy” is a name for the mountain beaver.  Huh!  Same folk etymology, extended to a different critter?  (One that used to have a much more restricted range, I hear, but now infests the Seattle suburbs.)

kick willy mountain beaverMaybe just because it sounds so cool, “Kick Willy Rd.” is also the title of a 1976 song by the Canadian rock band April Wine:

Kick Willy Rd - April Wine

Advertisements