Saturday, October 22, 2016

Historic Paddle Photo: Geological Survey of Canada

Here's another historic photo from the Archives of Canada.  Taken at an unknown location as part of an 1895 Geological Survey of Dr. R. Bell, the photo features men loading supplies into their bark canoes. 

Aboriginal men loading supplies into birch bark canoes
Photograph taken at an unknown location.
Credit: Geological Survey of Canada / Library and Archives Canada / PA-045620
Restrictions on use: Nil
Copyright: Expired

While the location was not recorded, the sharp stem profiles of the canoes look much like what Tappan Adney classified as the "Algonkin" type.

Old Model, Ottawa River, Algonkin Canoe

A few paddles are also visible in the scene. Here is a zoomed in version of one of the men with his straight sided paddle ready for action...

paddle closeup

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Halifax Maritime Museum of the Atlantic: Another shot of Mi'kmaq canoe & paddle

The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax features an old Mi'kmaq birchbark canoe on display behind a glass case. Included is a paddle which has warped over time. A previous post from 2013 features some photos taken by Lloyd of Canoe Canada East.

Found a blog of another museum visitor who captured another angle on the paddle. It shows the extreme tapering of the grip area from the side...

Photo Credit: Marelene Hutchins 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016 Aboriginal Use of Wood in New York has another online book which features some paddle & canoe related sketches. Aboriginal Use of Wood in New York by W.M. Beauchamp was published in 1905. Plate 5, sketch 22 shows another illustration of the paddle first documented in  The voyages and explorations of Samuel de Champlain, 1604-1616. This is one of the  earliest recorded images of a North American paddle although the original artist never likely saw the paddle directly.  Note the absence of any grip.

A previous post from 2010 showcased this paddle in its original illustrated context as part of map of Champlain's explorations. A native woman (obviously drawn with European bias) holding onto a child with one hand while grasping chevron decorated paddle with the other.

The voyages and explorations of Samuel de Champlain, 1604-1616

Beauchamp 's Aboriginal Use of Wood in New York also contains another re-sketched historic paddle image.

This one originally comes from Baron de Lahontan's book, Nouveaux Voyages de Mr. Le Baron de Lahontan dans l'Amérique Septentrionale first published in 1703 (see previous post here). The english translation dated to 1905 is also available on During Lahontan's journeys in New France between 1683 - 1695, he managed to record a brief description of typical paddles which included some dimensional info...

"The paddles they make use of are made from Maplewood, and their form is represented in the annex'd Cutt. The Blade of the Paddle is twenty inches long, six inches broad, and four Lines [1/3 inch] thick. The Handle [shaft] is about three Foot long, and as big [thick] as a Pigeons Egg"

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Algonquin Outfitters - Tom Thomson Paddle Art Contest

2017 will mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Canadian Artist, Tom Thomson on Algonquin Park's Canoe Lake. As part of the centennial events, Algonquin Outfitters is running a Paddle Art Contest. A modest $25 entry fee gets you unfinished paddle (or rough paddle blank) to decorate how you chose. Completed paddles must be received by August 31, 2017. An online and live auction will be held in September 2017 to determine the winners with proceeds going to various community organizations in the Algonquin Park Area.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Replicating a previous design - Sassafras Recurved Cree blade

Been working on replicating another tested blade design from earlier in the blog. Back in 2010, I came across the paddle blank at an antique sale. It looked to be a project intended for a kid that was never completed. The blank had a blade heavy design with a thinner 1" shaft thickness so using a crooked knife, it was reworked into a recurved Cree design in the collection of the Canadian Museum of Civilization.  The full post can be read here.

The partially complete Birch blank with pear grip

Cree Paddle - Canadian Museum of Civilization

Chipping out the outline; Cleaned up with the crooked knife

Completed Paddle

Despite the thin shaft and slightly shorter length, I've been quite happy with the performance with the design and is one of my go-to paddles for casual use. Thought I would replicate the blade with another board of Sassafras but add on an elongated grip for more comfort and balance. Here's a shot of the nearly completed blank.

Not sure about the decoration yet, but I'm thinking of doing another surface burn with the propane torch.

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