Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Vintage Poling Pics - Nova Scotia Guides

Here are some vintage pics of some guides doing some poling. They're from the wonderfully illustrated article, "In White Water" by Edward Breck from the Outing Magazine (Vol 36, February 1914) online at archive.org.

July 27th Update: Thanks to reader Nick Bell for  identifying these amazing canoemen as Nova Scotian guides (see comment posted below).

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Graham Robinson's Modern Canoe Tripping Art

While searching the web for pics on wanigans, I came across the artwork of fellow Toronto resident Graham Robinson. His "Coureur Des Bois" series showcases a seasoned paddler (who looks a whole lot like a paddling friend Rob S from the WCHA) using a mix of traditional and modern canoe gear.  Hope you find Graham's artwork as inspiring and appealing as I do!

18x24" acrylic on canvas

20x24" Acrylic on canvas

"Coureur Des Bois: Centre Flip"
 20x24" Acrylic on canvas

"Follow What i Say...Not What I've Done"
24X18"  Acrylic on canvas

Artist  Graham Robinson

Here's the bio from his  website:
Robinson takes his artistic inspiration from classic scenes of Canadiana. An avid adventurer, his paintings and illustrations are inspired by his travels across Northern Canada. Robinson works with a skewed and somewhat surreal approach to memories past where wanigans, barrels, canoes, and paddles all appear in familiar yet fictitious stages. His work often contains fable like narratives which reflect on the solidarity of the human psyche and consider the fragile state of our natural environment.
Graham Robinson was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada in 1987. He is currently enrolled at the Ontario College of Art and Design and has exhibited his work in galleries across North America since the age of 17. 

Looking forward to more cool canoe related art. In the meantime, anyone wishing to contact Graham can find his email address on his blogspot profile page HERE.

Monday, July 15, 2013

CCM's top 10 Must Read Blogs

Most long time readers of this blog will note my affinity for the Canadian Canoe Museum. It was the CCM's paddle making workshop that started my intense interest in this hobby and taught me the basic skills to experiment with carving. For a blast from the past...check out my very first post here from December 2007 featuring some pics about the workshop.

Mentioning all this because I was very honoured recently when this site was selected as one of the Top 10 Must Read blogs by the Museum.

Looks like the the CCM's website is undergoing some updates and getting a bit of a makeover. So some of the older links to there from this site might not be working. Either way, be sure to visit the museum either virtually or better yet, in person!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Historic Photo: 1910s Paddler

Woman with Canoe Paddle
Menomonie, Wisconsin, c1910.
From the Hansen Albert (1886-1979) Papers at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Big East River Poling & Lining Daytrip

Last week I got to spend another fun day playing around the mid section of the Big East River. The plan was to pole upstream further than last year's trip, setup a day-camp on a sandy spit somewhere, and snub back down to the launch point at the Williamsport Bridge. Just like last year, I ended up picking a steamy, humid day for the trip. Here's a shot of the gear loaded up at the access point.

Ready to launch

Water levels were much higher than last year's trip when the driest season on record forced a total fire ban across much of this part of Ontario. I was quite surprised at how much this changed the nature of the river. Obviously the current was stronger, but this year there were many more downed trees to contend with as well as a lot of channeling where parts of the river had serious flow and others were too shallow to move. Also interesting were the number of horizontal trees along the riverbank waiting for their turn to plop down.  

Horizontal trees on the riverbank

On this trip, I wanted to try out using some new camera angles - mostly to record my paddling & poling technique and see where I needed improvement. Usually the waterproof camera is setup on the end of spare paddle using a flexible mini tripod and some straps. During the deeper sections of the river when the canoe pole wasn't needed, the camera was rigged up on the end of the pole and that provided some neat shots. To secure the pole, the other end was tightly lashed in with the leftover leather straps from the tumpline on the centre thwart. Really like it when gear has more than one usage. Hope this is helpful to other solo paddlers wanting to experiment with filming.

Camera secured to top of pole

Other end lashed with the excess tumpline straps

Here's a reverse shot where the pole was flipped to the stern... 

Also got the chance to properly try out the homemade tripod / camp stool project made back in the winter. Here it is in "camera mode"...

Homemade tripod setup on the hull

Used this for filming some of the basic shots on shore and for the downstream run. Worked out very well. It only tipped over when an unsecured paddle slid across the bow seat and moved one of the legs out of position.

Anyway, after some deep water paddling against the current, the bottom of the river could be seen. At this point, I switched to the much more efficient pole to get further upstream.

To get the camera shots I would first pole up a section, setup the tripod on shore, snub down and then come back again to pick up the tripod and continue upstream. The shallow swifts look harmless enough, but all that back and forth meant it was still a decent workout. 

Eventually needed a break to rest up and eat. Spotted this sandy spot which looked perfect to setup a temporary shelter....
Perfect beach spot for a rest

After posting about some various canoe shelters back in the winter, ended up coming up with this basic fair weather shelter to get some escape from the sun. The canoe was propped up with some driftwood and the canoe pole and paddles supporting the tarp. To get the most of the very mild cooling breeze, it was setup so the air would flow through rather than being a windblock. Must be getting older because without an afternoon nap on a canoe trip, I get cranky.

Fair weather canoe shelter

The tripod was reconverted into its "campstool mode" to sit up and enjoy some lunch. If it wasn't so hot, I would've had a fire and cooked  up some noodles or something, but a daytime fire in such humid, muggy conditions made no sense. 

A brief walk around on the beach revealed two different sets of tracks. Smaller sets of multiple deer tracks (on the right) and solitary set of much larger moose tracks. Below is a shot of the two tracks next to my pocket firesteel (& waxed jute cordage) for scale

Moose tracks (left) and Deer sharing the beach

After recharging the inner battery, headed further upstream. As mentioned, the current was much stronger than last year and at one point was too much for a novice poler like myself. After exhausting myself with a few attempts, the only option was to track upstream with painter lines. Rigged up using the bridle system seen in Bill Mason's films and illustrated in Ray Goodwin's great book (see sample pages of this chapter HERE).

Couldn't pole up this section 

Tracking up this narrow channel with the painter lines rigged up 

Tricky work not to slip on the rocks while holding the line angles just right

More tracking upstream

Noticed this adjacent pond off the main river that I didn't see last year. Ended up exploring this neat little section that was free from the increasing current.

Channel to a little side pond

Poling up the tiny channel

At the far end of the pond was a marshy area where I spotted this guy fishing in the shallows. It allowed me to get a relatively clear shot before retreating in the reeds.
Great Blue Heron fishing the shallows

Eventually it was time to turn around and head back. Couldn't really manage taking too many pics during the steady downstream run while trying to steer and avoid the fallen debris, but here's a shot in a riffle. 
Heading back downstream 

Even though this wasn't really remote trip, I found the different water levels meant that this river was a great place to practice some backcountry skills - paddling, poling, snubbing, lining, & tracking. Like last time, put together a brief vid (3:49). Again no dramatic music in the background - just the sounds of the river, the bird life, and the deer flies buzzing around....

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Keewaydin Raffle Canoe with Temagami style tump

The annual Wooden Canoe Heritage Assembly is happening this week beginning today until July 14th. Unfortunately I can't attend again this year due to schedule issues but always look forward to the photos posted by those who attend.

This year, a special canoe is being raffled off - a completely restored Chestnut Cruiser from camp Keewaydin with quite a tripping history. Here are some details obtained from a recent post on CanoeTripping.net

 A 17 foot Chestnut Cruiser, # 36 from Keewaydin will be raffled at the WCHA Assembly at Paul Smith's College on Saturday, July 13, 2013. 
#36 was made by the Chestnut Canoe Company in Fredericton, NB in 1973 and delivered to Keewaydin Camps on Lake Temagami that year. For thirty five summers she was used in the Keewaydin tripping program. From the Rupert River in Quebec to Hudson Bay via the Winisk River in Northern Ontario, she has seen it all. Imagine the stories that this canoe could tell!
Saved from the burn pile by the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association the canoe has been rebuilt in the manner of the Keeywadin canoe shop and is ready for another round of extensive canoe trips. All the broken ribs were replaced along with quite a bit of planking. New seats and thwarts have been installed and the canoe has been covered with #8 canvas. The canoe has been painted Hunter Green and the distinctive letter "K" has been stenciled on the stern sides and the fleet number has been applied at the bow, just as it was at Keewaydin.

What caught my eye was the traditional temagami style carrying bar and tumpline on the centre thwart....

Some readers might remember my own re-interpretation of this piece of traditional gear to work with some non-traditional portage pads. After trying it out for a season, I concluded that I could have made the bar a bit thinner and so spent some time on rainy day to recut the piece and shave it down with better angles. To make gripping a bit easier, I also cut the profile to match the slightly curved thwart below...maybe not traditional, but I found this easier to grip when flipping the canoe onto the shoulders for a portage. Here are some shots

Frontal view after reshaping and rough sanding

 Side view after reshaping and rough sanding 

Oiled up and installed

My camera batteries died before I could take pictures of the tumpline lashed in, but I have pics from a recent day trip where you'll see the system in action better. The tiny leather straps with snap closures you might see in the pics (inserted through the ribtop gaps in the gunnels) are little things I put together to hold the canoe pole in place. Found that when I heeled the canoe over while paddling, the pole would role around and be annoying. So with these, the pole is can be loosely secured enough to quickly access when needed.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Gould Auction Paddle

An interesting paddle is being featured in the July 13th sale at GouldAuctions.com. It's item 220 on their online catalog. Unfortunately, no details other than the basic catalog title.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Canada Day Paddle & Gear Review

Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians! Got to take the canoe out into the lake in overcast conditions to celebrate our nation's birthday on the water.

Also took the time to test out a new bit of gear - an ultralight water filtration system called the Sawyer Squeeze. It consists of a plastic dirty water bag and a 0.1 micron hollow fiber filter that screws onto the bags threads. It's been reviewed by backpackers before but haven't seen it done for the paddling crowd yet. Here is the bundle in the hull...

The two components of the system side by side. The bag has handy instructions printed right onto it in case you forget the order of things....

Basically you dip the bag into a water source, in this case the deepest sections of my cottage lake, and wait to fill up. The collapsible design of the bag with its narrow threaded opening means the bag won't fill completely, but I helped it along by blowing the bag full of air before submerging. Here's a shot leaning over the gunnels to fill up...

The filter screws onto the threaded opening and with a gentle squeeze water starts flowing through the filter system...

Pop open the flow valve on the top and you're good to go for a quick drink....

I ended up using the supplied 16oz bag and there is no way that this fills up to capacity when trying to submerge in a body of water. The kit I got contains a medium (1L) and large (2L) size bag but I don't fully trust their capacities either. Still, the threaded section is pretty standard so an empty plastic bottle would also work. I found it very convenient to keep in the boat and to quickly pause to stay hydrated. I can see the advantages of this over having to pump water on route. The manufacturer has openly said the bags are not very tough, so extreme squeezing cause the seams to burst, but so far most of the reviews I've read on the product have been positive. My quick experience here has confirmed this will be a key bit of gear in my kit. 

Also took some video of trying out this system to show how easy it is to use while bobbing up and down on a wavy lake. Here's the unedited footage...

July 5th Update: Bryan H of Paddling Light has also reviewed this piece of gear. Check out his more detailed analysis HERE

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