1913: “Hi-yu Wah-wah” festival in Port Coquitlam

I see the newspaper editor assumed everyone knows what “Hi-yu Wah-wah” means!

Thanks to reader (and extremely fluent northern Chinuk Wawa speaker & Chinuk Pipa reader) Alex Code for sending us this clipping from 1913, from the lower Fraser River region of BC.

hi-yu wah-wah


Such is Unique Name for Celebration to Be Made in Port Coquitlam.

COQUITLAM, Feb. 20. — “Hi-Yu Wah-Wah” is the unique name by which the much-talked-of celebration [in] honor of the birth of the new city, “Port Coquitlam,” will be known, and if the present plans of the energetic committee, who have the matter in hand, do not miscarry the monster demonstration will totally eclipse anything of the kind ever held in the province. The date has been set for May 24 (Empire Day). The full details of the form which this celebration will take has [sic] not yet been definitely decided upon as yet but a feature of the affair, aside from the games and sports of all kinds, will be a calathumpian parade in which every vehicle and motor in the city will be impressed into service. The committee are Messrs. J.H. Smll J.Z. Long, Ronald O’Hanley and Councillors A.R. Millard and E.S. Morgan.

— from The British Columbian, March 4, 1913

Bonus fact:

In case anyone does need a translation, Hi-yu Wah-wah = háyú wáwa ‘lots of talk’ or else hayu-wáwa ‘talking’.

Given the use of the adjective “callithumpian”, maybe the idea was for a huge parade of cars and trucks honking their horns, in which case the organizers might’ve been trying for ‘lots of noise’! Could it be that they were relying on a dusty memory of the Chinook Jargon expression hayas(h)-wawa, ‘shout’?

It’s noteworthy how many civic celebrations in the Pacific Northwest have been called Hyiu this-or-that, or just plain Hyiu. There are those who have said that this CJ loanword into our English means ‘a celebration, a party’. A further synonym for that, found in historical documents, is a “hiyu time“.

I haven’t tracked down further references to this celebration in Port Coquitlam…

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?