Thursday, June 23, 2016

Historic Paddle Illustrations: Single Blade Aleut Paddles

The Eighteenth Annual report of the Bureau of American Ethnology (1896-1897) features a writeup on single blade kayak paddles from the Bering Strait region. Plate LXXX includes 4 examples all of which have some sort of thick centre ridgeline on the blade and a basic cross grip. Below the image is a modified excerpt describing the decorative patterns on the blades.


In Kotzebue sound the blades of the paddles used on umiaks are made rounded and very short. North of this district, at Point Hope, the paddle blades are lanceolate in shape, broadest near the handle, and taper downward to a long, sharp point.
...The forms of the blades vary according to locality. The single-blade paddles have the handles terminating in a crossbar, which is sometimes cut from the same piece of wood, and at other times is formed from a separate piece pierced with a hole, by which it is fitted on the end of the handle.
A single-blade paddle from King island (figure 9, plate LXXX) has a large, broad blade, with a central ridge on the outside. The lower two-thirds of the blade is painted black, and a triangular spot of black is marked on each side; the edge of the blade, where it joins the handle at the upper end, is also black, with a ring extending around the handle. All of these black markings are bordered by a narrow line of red and constitute the private marks of the owner.
Another single-blade kayak paddle, from Kushunuk (figure 7, plate LXXX), has a crosspiece fitted on the top of the handle by means of a square hole. The blade is long and slender and is tipped with black for a short distance; this is succeeded by several bands, varying in width, alternately of red, black, and uncolored wood. The handle near the blade is surrounded by a broad, black band, with a red band above and another below it.
Figure 8, plate LXXX, represents one of a pair of single-blade kayak paddles from Kushunuk. It has a long, narrow blade, and the crossbar at the end of the handle is cut from the same piece. The paddle is marked with black lines and bars representing a female phallic emblem, one-half of the figure being on each of the two paddles forming the set. On each side of the crossbar are incised lines representing the mouth, nostrils, and eyes of a semi-human face. On one side the mouth is curved downward, and on the other it is upcurved. The two paddles are exact duplicates as to their markings,
A single-blade paddle from Big lake (figure 6, plate LXXX) is somewhat similar in form to the preceding. On the middle of the blade on each side is painted a red disk, surrounded by a black circle, from which a black band extends up the median ridge of the blade to its upper edge, where a black ring surrounds the handle; from this point to the tip the edge of the blade is painted black.




Monday, June 20, 2016

Historic Paddle Illustration: A. Heming - Voyageur paddle portage pic

Here's a lovely illustration by Arthur Heming depicting a hardy voyageur  climbing up a steep slope. His tumpline is loaded with a crate and large sacks of supplies while a narrow paddle acts as a support stick.




Heming produced many voyageur themed artworks, each with long narrow paddles. This particular illustration was selected to visualize a description of a tough uphill portage by the canoe party in J.W. Tyrell's Across the sub-Artics of Canada available now on Archive.org



Monday, June 13, 2016

Mike Elliot "This Old Canoe" Book tour in Ontario

Mike Elliot, author of This Old Canoewill shortly begin his book tour here in Southern Ontario.

This Old Canoe book specifications:
8.5″ x 11″ paperback


On Thursday, June 16th, Mike will be at the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, ON at 6:00 pm. Entry to the museum and the presentation are free to the public at that hour - see facebook link here.

The next day on June 17th, Mike will be at the White Squall Paddling Centre in Parry Sound presenting at 7:00 pm. This event is will also be attended by the Canadian Chapter Head of the the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association, the very talented builder Pam Wedd of Bearwood Canoes. A BBQ with proceeds going to the Outer Islands Stewardship Project. Registration and map details for the free event can be found at this link here

Addition Ontario dates for Mike's book signing and presentations include:

• June 18 in Midland, ON at the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre – 7:30 pm

• June 26 in Sydenham, ON at Frontenac Outfitters Canoe and Kayak Centre – 1:00 pm

• June 30 in Ottawa, ON at Trailhead Paddle Shack – 2:00 pm

For American friends interested in checking out his book, Mike will also be presenting this year on July 14th - 2:30 pm at the annual Wooden Canoe Heritage Assembly being held again at Paul Smith's College, New York.



Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Eastern Maine - Practical Guide

Eastern Maine Practical Guide (1905) by Albert Moore Rollins is a little booklet which features a few wonderful images of state's canoeing culture. Page 13 has a grainy photo a small canoe party. It looks as though one guide is using a wood canvas canoe while the other is guiding with a lovely looking bark canoe. The length of the paddles is quite apparent.

Calais Parties, Cathance Lake Image


 Canvas Canoe Closeup


Bark Canoe Closeup


The images reminded me of a sketch from Thomas Sedgeick Steele's 1882 publication, Canoe and camera : a two hundred mile tour through the Maine forests. A lengthy Maine paddles with the elongated grip is being gripped by "the Sport" in the foreground.  



Thursday, June 2, 2016

Historic Paddle Photos: Grand Trunks Railway Guide for Temagami

The 1913 Grand Trunk Railway travel guide entitled, Timagami, a peerless region for sportsman, canoeist and camper has numerous pics of old time guides from this famed canoeing wonderland.  Here's a favourite I cropped from page 14 - a nice shot of a haul of small mouth bass. Paddle and wannigans proudly displayed in the photo too.



The back cover features a photo of "A Timagami Guide" dressed up sharply with his paddle resting against his shoulder taking in a hefty drag of tobacco. Looks like quite the character!











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