Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ikwe Film Paddles

John Lindman's recent Bark Canoe newsletter mentioned various films that feature bark canoes (or replicas) prominantly. One of those is a 1986 film by the National Film Board of Canada entitled Ikwe. Here's the description:
A young Ojibwa girl of 1770, Ikwe awakens one night from a disturbing dream about a strange man. The arrival of a young Scottish fur trader transforms her dream into reality. Marrying him, Ikwe leaves her village on the shores of Georgian Bay. Although the union promises prosperity for her tribe, it means hardship and isolation for Ikwe. Values and customs clash until, finally, the events of Ikwe's dream unfold with tragic clarity.

Many of the shots in the film have wonderful closeups of bark canoes and some interesting paddle designs. In particular, I noticed a prominance of what seemed to be authentic paddle grips. Here are some sceenshots.

In the above pic, a Cree guide named Bluecoat is using a broad, flat grip style, very reminiscient of the flat style seen in some earlier paddles. In particular, it reminded me of the flat style of the Iroquois paddles displayed at the Royal Ontario Museum and the Diamond Passamaquoddy I'm still working on.

The female lead, Ikwe, is seen using a bobble style grip on her paddle in a manner I've seen in many archived photos of natives paddling bark canoes. Some examples from the Minnesota Historical Society can be found here, here, and here.

Lindman mentions that some of the canoes were built by Bill Hafeman, but the one pictured below looks very similar to the style and form of Jocko Carle and Basil Smith. David Gidmark's book mentions the near vertical stem as a classic feature of Carle's canoes and the scalloped winter bark decoration with the fish look identical to a canoe I saw being repaired at the Canadian Canoe Museum a while back. Of course, I could be totally wrong in my assumption that it is the same canoe, but it would be a neat bit of info if this canoe was indeed a "movie star".

Bark Canoe in Ikwe

Another shot

Jocko Carle Canoe Repair at the CCM

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