Saturday, September 29, 2012

MHS Voyageur Paddle Replica: Part 1

The Minnesota Historical Society has a paddle in their collection dating to 1839 (see posts HERE and HERE). The grip is adorned with some elaborate chip carving and includes the initials "W.D." Although the paddle was discovered in Minnesota, the shape and decorative design is consistent with East Coast Abenaki style paddles.

Thought I would try to replicate this design with some 6/4 cherry I had on hand. After sawing out the blank up north, it was brought down to the city to be worked down in the backyard. Here is a shot of the paddle setup on the horse...

Working down the blade

Here's a shot of the blade pretty much done, though I plan to round out the pointed tip to match the original a bit more. Grip area still needs more work...

My version isn't meant to be an exact replica since I reduce the length to fit my preferred length of 58". The grip area isn't proportional to the original either since it would've turned out to be too narrow. Here`s how it stands now with some final work needed to the grip and shaft:

Nov 9, 2012 UPDATE : Paddle is now PART 2 HERE

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chippewa Paddling Photo

Vintage photo from an expired Ebay listing showcasing some Chippewa (Ojibwe) paddlers in a bark canoe...

What caught my attention is the griping method on the paddles. The female in the bow looks to be holding a pole grip style paddle with an underhand grip while the stern paddler is holding the grip in the "Northwoods" style or what Pinkerton described as the "Indian's Position"

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ojibwe Paddle and Bark Canoe

Here's an example of an Ojibwe bark canoe and roughly carved paddle found online at the Ojibwe People's Dictionary Project. Unfortunately no extra details about the canoe or the paddle...

 Photo Credits:
Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission

Friday, September 21, 2012

40 Year Deliverance Anniversary

For many people, Deliverance was/is THE canoeing movie. Turns out this summer marked the 40th anniversary of the film's release. Found some photos of the actors doing a sort of reunion at the Burt Reynolds Museum in Florida posing next to one of the canoes apparently used in the shoot.

The midsection of the canoe looks to have undergone some amateur repair and the whole thing is obviously much shorter than a real tripping canoe...what happened to the seats?

Canoe used in the film (Burt Reynolds Museum)

Anyway, found out on the WCHA forums that the canoe was an Old Town 16' Guide. In the "Disaster Scene", John Voight's character takes the canoe backwards down a rapid and the canoe splits in half after getting hung up in the rock, thereby reinforcing the old myth that wooden canoes are fragile. This scene always puzzled me by how easily the cedar hull and canvas split apart so easily when it would seem that a gunnel break would be more likely.  Turns out the special effects guys literally sawed the canoe in half at the mid point from gunnel to gunnel for the scene and that explained how the boat dramatically broke apart. Supposed the salvaged bits where re-connected to form the canoe in the Burt Reynolds Museum.

 The Disaster Scene - split occuring at the midpoint 

Wonder if any of the actors ever went real canoe tripping after filming wrapped up?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Abbe Museum Paddle

Came across the delightfully descriptive blog, Our Acadia featuring highlights of the East Coast. A post from July of this year detailed a rainy day trip to the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor which features a paddling exhibit. Of course, it was the paddle in the photo that caught my eye.

Photo Courtesy of OurAcadia

The paddle looks to be identical to the Tomah Joseph etched paddle I posted on earlier, although I could be mistaken. Unfortunately I've had no luck sourcing out any higher resolution close up pics. If anyone has visited this exhibit and is willing to share their personal photos, feel free to email me. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Historical Re-enactment Paddles

Issac Walters runs a site devoted to the history of The French in Wisconsin. I stumbled across his 2009 post showcasing his bark canoe and some decorated paddle blades...

Here are some extra details he generously provided...

The two red painted paddles are carved from white cedar and were made by John Beltman of Northern Minnesota. The decorative designs are fusion of different patterns from researching images of historical artists Thomas Davies (circa 1737-1812), James Peachey (active 1773-1797), Louis Nicholas (see my Codex Canadiensis post) and some museum canoe models.

The blue paddle in the picture was one that Scott Bowen (Southern MN) started carving and was going to throw out because it was cracking in the blade. Isaac finished the carving adding a Cross of Lorraine on the grip, then painted it blue. To combat the crack, the tip was reinforced with some copper.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Antler Grip Paddle by Larry Bowers

I've been sidelined this past week with a harsh case of eczema on my hands & fingers. They're all covered in burning, nasty blisters and swollen enough that I can't use my hands for much...couldn't drive all week and certainly can't do any carving.

This kept me away from the annual Paddler's Rendezvous at Killbear park this weekend but here is my post from last year for anyone who missed it last time around. Lots of great wooden canoe eye candy.

In the meantime, for anyone itching for a paddle making fix, check out the recent post by Larry Bowers of West Country Canoes on using antler horn for a paddle grip. Lots of great photos of the process for anyone wanting to give it a go.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

c1878 York Sunbury Maliseet Replica: Part 2

I've been working on a replica of the c1878 York Sunbury Maliseet since the winter. Back in May, I posted about the progress and more or less thought the paddle was done for the decoration phase. But after letting it sit for a few months, it still felt too bulky and lacked some flex. So it was brought out again and worked down a bit...

The backyard workshop in winter

Reworking on the shaving horse 

The original oval-shaped shaft felt too thick so it was worked back into a round shape with a crooked knife. Didn't realize I acquired so much grey hair this year...

Given that this blank was hacked out with an axe, the symmetry isn't perfect. Kind of messed up the based of the grip above the carved drip-ring and it ended up being more narrow than the original... 

My yellow birch version & the c1878 original 

For now, the blank looks quite pale but after a bit of aging and oiling is should darken nicely. A few days after this pic was taken, my wife was spooked by a family of 6 raccoons that had decided to get comfortable on our deck in the middle of the day. A PBS documentary recently declared Toronto "The Raccoon Capital of the World" and the huge population of fuzzy bandits are quite the nuisance to most residents day and night. Anyway, loud noises did nothing and they even stood their ground after an aggressive spraying with water. I've come across black bears that are more timid than these little devils! Ended up using grabbing this paddle and gently poked the mama to make her realize that our little deck wasn't a good place to visit. She scurried off and her little ones followed.  

It reminded me of a drawing by Tappan Adney which appeared in an article entitled, "Beaver Ways" in Outing - Vol XLI - March 1903. Apart from propulsion, paddles can be used to keep the wildlife at bay (check out the hilarious caption on the lower left!)

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