Al Cole was born in 1944 in Bella Coola, a traditional coastal village in central British Columbia. His great-grandfather was the respected hereditary chief, Tlelamin, whose longhouse was reproduced by Nuxalk carver, Glenn Tallio for the Great Hall of the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec. He is the youngest of ten children.
Al began to carve as a child and later apprenticed with Orden Mack, a renowned Nuxalk carver in the 1950s, on totem pole commissions. He received his first carving tools as a gift from Orden.
He left school at the age of 15 and worked as a logger for a year. He then travelled to New Zealand and Australia where he worked for four years. He returned to Canada and resumed his career as a logger, as well as carving in his spare time. Many of these pieces were carved as ceremonial and presentation pieces for friends and family. In 1994, he moved to Prince George, BC. A logging accident injured his back and during his time of disability he began to carve more seriously. He sold numerous pieces to private collections in the United States, Japan and Germany.
He feels that he has the right to carve shamanic imagery as shamanism has been in his family including his great-grandmother, Qap Rosie Clalamin who was a renowned shaman in Bella Coola.
—Spirit Wrestler Gallery
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