Thursday, March 1, 2012

Voyageur Paddles - The Beaver has an online edition of The Beaver, June 1922 which features an article on Birchbark Canoes. Here's a brief excerpt describing the paddles used by the canoemen:

The paddle used in these canoes was narrow in the blade, being about 3 1/2 inches in width, and the style of paddling peculiar to the canoe itself. The stroke was quick, and continuous, 45 strokes to the minute being about the average, and in the hands of a good crew 4 1/2 to 6 miles an hour would be attained. The stroke was set by the bowsman, always a good man, not only as a paddler and guide but an expert in rapids and rough water. He always carried two paddles, the narrow one for ordinary paddling and a long wide one for quick manoeuvering in running rapids.

The article continues in the next edition, July 1922. Interestingly, the cover of the September, 1922 edition is the one featuring a fur trade canoe with narrow paddles and an improvised sail from a red HBC point blanket.

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