Sunday, December 10, 2017

Historic Photo: Hudson's Bay Cree Canoe Paddles

From the 1912 publication, A summer and winter on Hudson Bay by CK Leith comes a vintage photo of a Cree camp taken at Fort George on the East side of Hudson's Bay. The scene features an overturned canoe propped up with a broad bladed paddle. A bobble style grip is visible in the other paddle which appears quite long in relation to the person holding it.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Krieghoff Comparison: Indian Wigwam in Lower Canada 1848

Another replica I've been itching to do for quite some time is the brightly coloured paddle featured in the Cornelius Krieghoff piece, "Indian Wigwam in Lower Canada" dated to 1848. I first wrote about this paddle way back in 2010 when casually researching historic images. Since then I've read biographies about Krieghoff to learn a bit more about his inspiration and potential accuracy of his images.

The McCord Museum in Montreal has an original oil by Krieghoff dated to 1847 entitled " Aboriginal Camp in Lower Canada".  In it we see a canoe with highly bent ends, bark wigwams in the background and a group of people in the front. Seated on a log with his back to the viewer, a man is holding a paddle decorated with brightly coloured chevrons.  Unfortunately in this image there is no visible shaft, giving the paddle a bit of a distorted look.

Painting | Aboriginal Camp in Lower Canada | M19893
Aboriginal Camp in Lower Canada
Cornelius Krieghoff (1815-1872)
1847, 19th century
Source Link

The next year in 1848, Krieghoff created another piece based on this image with some minor modifications. The image was retitled, " Indian Wigwam in Lower Canada" and was used to create a lithograph for publication. Multiple copies of these lithographs were distributed around the world over the years and have often come up for auction. An example is the following image by William Reese Company.

Krieghoff, Cornelius:
[Montreal: R. & C. Chalmers, 1848]. Lithograph, 15 x 20 inches (visible portion).
 Item #WRCAM32676

In Krieghoff's updated version, the shaft and bobble shaped grip of the paddle are now in view, eliminating the missing distortion in the previous work. Krieghoff also decided to reverse the chevron pattern on the blade so that the decorations are now "pointing" up towards the grip rather than down towards the blade tip. In order to enhance the appearance of greyscale lithographs, many were subsequently coloured by other artists resulting is slightly different renditions of the paddle decoration.

The McCord Museum also has one of these painted lithograph prints. The coloured bands on the blade and shaft follow a Red - Yellow - Blue sequence from the tip upwards.

Print | Indian Wigwam in Lower Canada | M976.71.2
Indian Wigwam in Lower Canada
Cornelius Krieghoff (1815-1872)
About 1850, 19th century
Purchase from Kennedy Galleries
Source Link

Another version now in the National Gallery of Canada (uploaded to Wiki Commons) is a more brightly coloured version with the same decoration pattern.

Indian Wigwam in Lower Canada
Cornelius Krieghoff
Lithograph with watercolour on wove paper
National Gallery of Canada
Credit line: Gift of Donald Maclaren, Ottawa, 1990
Accession number: 30820

The Toronto Public Library Special Collections Archive also contains a version. This one has a more significant pattern change. The chevron pattern is Yellow - Red - Blue - Red - Yellow - Blue and the banded decoration on the shaft has been replaced with an all red.

Indian Wigwam in Lower Canada (1848)
Creator: Cornelius Krieghoff, 1815-1872
Contributors:Thomas Kammerer; Andreas Borum, 1799-1853
Identifier: 022kieghoff-inidan-wigwam
Format: Picture
Rights: Public domain
Gift of the Bain family - 2008.
Courtesy: Toronto Public Library

Canadian Auction House Waddington's had a print for sale back in 2016. This one has the Red - Yellow - Blue banded pattern on the shaft culminating in a red bobble grip. The blade has a curious pattern of Red - Yellow - Blue then a plain or natural looking band again followed by a  Yellow - Blue - Red.

Lot 59:  Indian Wigwam in Lower Canada (1848)
November 21, 2016
Toronto, ON, CA

The version on Artnet Auctions has a Yellow - Red - Blue pattern on the blade. The shaft however is decorated with the alternating pattern of thick yellow bands followed by thin red lines.

Indian Wigwam in Lower Canada (1848)
Artnet Auctions

A final version is in the collection of the Library and Archives of Canada. This one has a blade pattern of Yellow - Red - Blue repeating up the shaft.

Indian Wigwam in Lower Canada (1848)
Credit: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1989-511-1
Copyright: Expired
MIKAN 2836651

When I get around to finishing my replica, they'll have to be some decisions made about the decorative pattern.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Historic Paddle Photo: McCord Algonkian Bark canoe & paddles

Here's a circa 1870 photo of a hunter's camp in the collection of the McCord Museum...

Photograph | Meal time, hunters' camp, ON(?)-QC(?), about 1870 | MP-0000.1452.162
Meal time, hunters' camp, ON(?)-QC(?), about 1870
Alexander Henderson

Tricky to spot, but on the far right under the watermark is a collection of paddles leaning against a brace. The photo captures the single blade shape as well as the grip profiles

Paddle Closeup

The particular flattened grip shape is similar to the paddles recorded in figure 102 of Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America.
Figure 102:  TĂȘtes de Boule  paddle. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Historic Paddle Illustration: Krieghoff - Indian Family in the Forest

Here is another painting by Cornelius Krieghoff featuring a full view of a bobble-grip canoe paddle. This one is in the collection of the Montreal Museum of Fine Art.

lndian Family in the Forest, 1851
Krieghoff, Cornelius 
Oil on canvas 
Mary Fry Dawson Bequest
44.7 x 66.6 cm

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Son's Spiderman paddle salvaged from a previous mistake

After carving the sassafras tripping paddle for my elder son this summer, little brother kept asking if he was getting a paddle too. This became an opportunity to salvage  a ruined paddle that had warped horribly during a decoration attempt to scorch the surface with a torch.

Warping of shaft after scorching surface

There was no way to completely eliminate the severe warping, but the paddle was reshaped into a functional design for an unwary three year old. As inspiration, I aimed to replicate the shape of a circa 1891 ceremonial paddle documented in the following Smithsonian photo.

Iroquois Tribe: Portrait of Viroqua's Oldest Brother, Jesse Martin, and his Great Niece
CULTURE: Iroquois Mohawk
DATE: prior to 1891
Photo Lot 24 SPC Ne Iroquois Mohawk NM 24145 00782400
National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution

The dual tone motif has also been seen in other historic photos featuring Iroquois paddlers, like in the the work of James Peachey.

Iroquois Decorated Paddles 
Closeup of Southeast view of Cataraqui (Kingston) on Lake Ontario
James Peachey
Library and Archives Canada

Luckily I still had some of the Regal Red rust paint used to refurbish the 14' Chesnut canoe. It isn't a true match to the faded ochre red in the painting but it would do. The plan was to copy this dual tone motif along with some some black paint.

First, the 58" full-sized paddle was cut down into a miniature-sized 38". The blade was reshaped into a smaller beavertail design and the shaft re-cut and shaved down to a thinner 3/4" diameter. Like the ceremonial paddle, it has a simple pole style grip which will work for him since he knows nothing of correction strokes just yet.

Dual Tone mini paddle

Of course this paddle wasn't really meant for me and my historical obsession. So as a treat for my little guy, I did my best to paint his current hero, Spiderman, on the other side of the blade.

Friendly, Neighborhood Spiderman Paddle

There's still a discernible warp near the neck of the blade, but  hopefully this will be be some incentive to get him out in the canoe next season.  

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