Tuesday, January 12, 2021

NMAI Anishinaabe (Ojibway) Floral Incised paddle

Here's another interesting find in the collections of the National Museum of the American Indian. Item 90034.000 is a heavily repaired paddle attributed loosely to the "Ontario Ojibwe". The paddle's original collection date is unknown but it was donated to the forerunner of the NMAI by A.B. Comer of New York City in 1919.

Canoe Paddle
Ontario Ojibwe
no later than 1919
Barcode: 090034.000
Catalog No. 9/34

Rather than featuring paint, the incised decorations feature some vine-like and floral motifs, not unlike the Anishinaabe decorative traditions of beadwork. 



Saturday, January 2, 2021

Historic Paddle Photo: Carving a paddle in camp

A post on Worthpoint.com features a stereograph by A.L. Hinds of Benton, Maine. Titled as " Boom House, Ambijegis Lake", the image was captured in the 1870s. It features a man in the centre of the frame carving a canoe paddle with what looks to be a small pocket knife. The paddle has very squarish lines, much easier to carve than the typically curved paddles of the Penobscot people in the region.





Friday, December 25, 2020

Season's Greetings

Season's Greetings 


Much of the region was blessed with a thick layer of snow on Christmas day. Despite being an obsessed canoe enthusiast, I've always enjoyed the onset of winter with a proper snowfall. Best holiday wishes to everyone!

P.S. Just completed this paddle a few days ago. Post about it coming soon...



Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Trappers Canoe Restoration: Analysis of the hull exterior

After removing the fiberglass cloth off the exterior of the hull and methodically scraping away bits of resin, the cedar planking was now fully exposed. Basically the condition of the planking could now be assessed.

A centre plank has a hole and will need to be replaced. This should be an easy repair since the planking lies flat in this area.


 A more challenging repair will be at the bow stem where planking has been damaged revealing the stem piece and ribs underneath. Here the planks twist heavily but the repair should work once the planks are treated with some heat...


Some planking along the sheer line will need to be replaced. It seems the original owner did some repairs by tacking bits of wood between the damaged rib tops in a effort to stabilize the region


These discretely placed bits did their job because the region is pretty solid despite the rough appearance. They were also painted green but will become unnecessary once the rib tops are properly repaired and secured to the inwale. In total I counted 9 standard ribs tops that need to be repaired and 2 cant rib tops that also need splicing in of new wood. Can't see any cracked / broken ribs at the moment, but something might be revealed once all that green interior paint is stripped away.


The heavy layers fiberglass at the stems added stiffness to the hull but likely also contributed to the heavy rot on both stems. Once the tacks were removed at the edge planking, the missing stem tops were revealed at both ends. These will also need to have new tips spliced in...


Basically this canoe has a little bit of everything needed for repairs but it still seems to be in great overall condition for a heavily used, functional boat.



Sunday, December 6, 2020

Cedar "Huron" Paddle Replica

Coming across three nearly identical versions of a model paddle in the collections of the Smithsonian, New York's Metropolitan Museum and the Danish National Museum provided the motivation to attempt a full sized version.

DONOR NAME: Dr. William C. Sturtevant
COLLECTOR: Colonel C. B. Dyneley
OBJECT TYPE: Canoe Model / Paddle Model
PLACE: Ontario / Quebec, Canada, North America
ACCESSION DATE: 2002-Jun-30
COLLECTION DATE: 1848
ACCESSION NUMBER: 378683
USNM NUMBER: E430522-0




Canoe Model with Accoutrements
Ralph T. Coe Collection, Gift of Ralph T. Coe Foundation for the Arts, 2011
Accession Number:  2011.154.6a–p





National Museum of Denmark, Dept of Ethnography
Photo Credit: Kit Weiss
Hyslop, Stephen G. Chroniclers of Indian life. Alexandria, Va. : Time-Life Books. p.24


 All three model paddles to be made of cedar and I happened to have a scrap piece of red cedar with decent grain. A small 55 inch paddle could be made from the board after cutting around small knots. Shaping out the blank and thinning down the blade with the axe produced lots of scrap for summertime campfires.

The diamond shaped blade features notched shoulders with the face divided into faded red and blue hemispheres. The blade tip shaped into a blunt point. Ended up using some milk paints with similar colours to mimic the decorative effect. The Met Museum cites the model as being a "Maliseet style" but the Smithsonian and Danish samples mention a provenance stemming from the Quebec / St. Lawrence river valley with the Danish sample mentioning it was was made by Quebec Huron / Wendat as a tourist item. This makes the most sense as by the mid 19th century the Wendat in the Quebec city region were well known for manufacturing and marketing such models for the burgeoning tourist trade. As such I've labelled this paddle as a "Huron".





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